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Year-In-Review: 2018's top weather events in southwest, central Virginia

From tornadoes to floods to snowstorms, we had it all.

ROANOKE, Va. – From start to finish, the weather in 2018 seemed to always be a conversation starter. It wasn't very difficult to find weather events that stood out. In fact, what was more difficult was cramming them all into one story.

We'll walk you through each event, and by the end of this article - you'll realize just how crazy this year has been (if you haven't already).

1. Early Spring Snowstorm

For much of January and February, we were in somewhat of a snow drought. It seemed, though, as we got closer to spring - winter wanted to play catch-up. It did just that on March 22. That's when parts of the NRV and Southside got clobbered with a heavy, wet snow.

This was enough to postpone the NASCAR race at Martinsville. 

Meanwhile, places like Wytheville and Dublin saw more than a foot of snow. This, however, melted a little more quickly thanks to the springtime sun.

2. April 15 Tornado Outbreak

Exactly three weeks after that snow, spring flexed its muscle. Six tornadoes moved through the StormTeam 10 viewing area in just one day. The strongest was an EF-3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale.

It carved a path from Timberlake to Elon, and wound up being one of only 12 EF-3 tornadoes in America this year. Not one EF-4 or EF-5 touched down in the U.S. in 2018.

3. Cave Spring Flooding

In late May, a very slow-moving thunderstorm developed right over Cave Spring. As many of you may remember, this thing just did not want to move. The moisture-rich environment in which it formed allowed for 4-6 inches of rain to drop within 2-3 hours. 

This wound up leading to several car rescues, and also caused some roads to buckle (like the one you see in the above picture).

4. College Lake Dam/Lynchburg Flood

In early August, a similar thing happened in Lynchburg. This time, it was a line of intense rain that kept 'training' over parts of the Hill City. Nearly half a foot of rain fell in a span of 3-5 hours, causing concern that the College Lake Dam might fail.

Evacuations were ordered downstream, forcing people to shelter in the E.C. Glass auditorium. If the dam did collapse, the water level in parts of the city would've risen by 17 feet in 7 minutes. Thankfully, that never happened.

5. Florence and Michael

Florence moved slowly toward our area as a tropical depression, but was enough to drop several inches of rain on us. This lead to flooding, road closures, mudslides and school schedule changes.

When Michael came through, it was moving much more quickly. In fact, we saw about the same amount of rain during Michael as Florence. However, that rain was more intense and fell in a shorter amount of time. 

Flash Flood Emergencies were in place at one point for Roanoke and Danville. Multiple swift water rescues continued in Salem through the night. Four people died in the flood waters in Southside.

6. Huge December snowstorm

Following a November ice storm that left parts of the NRV and Bent Mountain without power, we saw 12-18" of snow blanket most of our area on December 9. It was the snowiest December day on record in both Roanoke and Lynchburg. 

It took much longer for that snow to melt, thanks to a lower sun angle in the sky. Some school systems were out the entire week after that storm.

We can only hope that 2019 may spare us a little from the extremes. Looking back on this has opened our eyes to just how much we can see in this part of the country. Through it all, this is a beautiful area. We're all proud to forecast the weather for this area and to call it home.


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