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1,000-YEAR FLOOD: Four years since deadly, historic flooding in West Virginia, parts of the Highlands

In less than 12 hours, one part of our area saw 2-3 months worth of rain resulting in deadly flooding.

Flood waters rise toward Covington's Humpback Bridge in June of 2016
Flood waters rise toward Covington's Humpback Bridge in June of 2016 (Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

ROANOKE, Va. – We’ve been no stranger to flooding in 2020, but it was this time in 2016 that parts of Greenbrier County experienced what the National Weather Service called a “thousand-year flood.” This means that flooding/rain of this magnitude in a 24-hour span has a one-in-one-thousand chance of happening. Unfortunately, it happened.

The result was historic river flooding, catastrophic flash flooding and nearly two dozen people in West Virginia losing their lives. Thousands of homes sustained damage or were destroyed, with the total cost to repair after the event exceeding 50 million dollars.

It was also enough to cancel the Greenbrier Classic that year. Video from PGA Golfer, Bubba Watson, shows how devastating the flooding was as it was happening.

A reconstructed map of rain totals shows just how much fell over parts of our region. You can easily see the narrow band of 6-12 inches of rain that fell during this storm. Tropical moisture building along a stalled boundary is ultimately what lead to this unfair and unrelenting rain.

Map of rain totals during the 2016 flood of Greenbrier County and the Alleghany Highlands
Map of rain totals during the 2016 flood of Greenbrier County and the Alleghany Highlands

Most of that came within a 12-hour time period, leading the Greenbrier River to reach its 3rd-highest level on record and the Dunlap Creek in Covington to reach its highest level on record.

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has a full write-up, showcasing what lead to this event along with pictures of the aftermath.


Below are stories that we did in the days that followed this tragic flood:


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