ROANOKE, Va. – On October 11, 2018, Michael (then a tropical storm) tore through parts of southwest, central and southside Virginia. Just a day after making landfall in Florida's panhandle, the storm raced up the East Coast.
This fast movement of the storm gave it little time to weaken, making it a historic storm for one part of our area. Danville recorded half a foot of rain within just a few hours.
This wound up being the flood of record for the Dan River in Danville, the 4th highest for the New River in Radford, and the 7th highest for the Roanoke River in Roanoke.
Rain like this lead to a few fatalities across Southside. Flash Flood Emergencies were in place for Danville and Roanoke at one point. Multiple water rescues took place throughout the area too, with schools closing early and homes being inundated with flood waters.
Areas south of Highway 460 took the worst of the storm, accumulating more than five inches of rain. Most of the area wound up picking up a couple inches of rain or more, on top of an already-saturated soil from previous storms. This only added to what was a record year, rainfall-wise, across the area.
It goes to show that a storm that's "only a tropical storm" can still do significant damage. The category of a tropical system only refers to the wind speed around the eye/center of the storm. It doesn't tell the whole story, especially for areas like ours where flooding is the worst impact of these types of systems.