33 YEARS AGO: The Flood of '85

It was 33 years ago that Roanoke received record rain and flooding.


ROANOKE, Va. – I've not been here a long time, but it's been made perfectly clear to me the impact that the Flood of '85 had on this region. Tropical Storm Michael, the derecho of 2012, the many wind events, flooding events and snowstorms we've had...none of them come close to what transpired in early November of 1985. 

It was 33 years ago to the day that the weather sent parts of the Roanoke Valley into the wrong side of history. 

More than half a foot of rain fell within one day in the Star City - the most that's fallen in Roanoke in one day. This caused the Roanoke River to rise to a record level of 23.35 feet, which is seven feet higher than its crest during Tropical Storm Michael. The worst part of all of this is that we lost ten people from this horrific weather event. 

Other rain totals over multiple days show that parts of the Highlands received about a foot of rain, with the highest total observed coming in at 19.8 inches.


Archived analysis below shows the remnants of Hurricane Juan stalling, dumping historic rain on parts of Virginia and West Virginia. This is something you don't commonly see this deep into the year. 


Looking ahead to this Election Day, there's the chance for severe weather. However, it's important to remind you that we don't expect a repeat of '85. What we see Tuesday comes from a line of rain and storms, not from a stalling tropical system for days at a time.

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