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Hurricane History of the Mid-Atlantic Region

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Hurricane History of the Mid-Atlantic Region
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The Mid-Atlantic region has been impacted by hurricanes and tropical storms periodically throughout history and is particularly vulnerable to high winds and power outages. Following is a summary of the major storms that have caused significant flooding and damage in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.

Hurricanes were first named in 1950 and were initially named with the old World War II phonetic alphabet. Women's names were first used in 1953. Beginning in 1960, four sets of names were established to be recycled after four years. Male names were first used in 1979 and the sets are repeated every six years. Names of destructive hurricanes are often "retired" from the list.

Unnamed – 1933 - An unnamed hurricane hit the Mid-Atlantic region. It was the most destructive hurricane on record for the Chesapeake Bay and Washington DC. The surge reached 11 feet in Washington DC. This storm caused a total of 18 deaths.

Hazel – 1954 - Hurricane Hazel made landfall near Wilmington, NC and was downgraded to extratropical when it moved through the Washington DC area. Hazel established Washington, DC’s wind record of 78 mph sustained, with a gust to 98 mph. There were 3 deaths in DC, 13 in Virginia and 6 in Maryland. Many other people were injured. Over a half of a million dollars in damage occurred in Washington DC with about $40 million in damages to Maryland and Virginia.

Connie - 1955 - The eye of Connie moved up the Chesapeake Bay, across Baltimore and into Pennsylvania. Totals of over 10 inches of rain were reported on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay, in Pennsylvania, and in southeastern New York. A small boat capsized in the Chesapeake Bay killing 16 people. Total damage in Virginia was estimated at $1 million and $4 million dollars in Maryland. Five days later another storm resulted in further damage to the area.

Diane – 1955 - Five days after Connie, Diane moved across central and northern Virginia northeast through Baltimore County and into Pennsylvania. The combined rains of Connie and Diane set new records. Diane dropped an additional 10 inches of rain on the Blue Ridge Mountains. The heaviest rains fell along the Skyline Drive area and resulted in flash flooding along the piedmont and over the Shenandoah Valley. The storm caused about 200 deaths and total damages of $831 million.

Camille – 1969 - After making landfall in Mississippi as a Category 5, Hurricane Camille weakened rapidly as it moved north. It came back to life as it moved into Virginia with torrential rains causing flash floods and mudslides along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These floods and landslides constituted the worst natural disaster ever to affect the state of Virginia. Camille killed 259 people and caused $1.42 billion in damages.

Agnes - 1972 – Hurricane Agnes was one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history with $2.1 billion in damages. Devastating floods occurred in from North Carolina to New York. 10 to 14 inches of rain fell over a broad area of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Major river flooding occurred on the Rappahannock, Rapidan, and Potomac River Basins. At Wisconsin Avenue in NW DC, the river rose 15.5 feet. In Virginia, there were 13 deaths and $126 million in damages. In Maryland, there were 19 deaths and $110 million in damages and in West Virginia there were $7.8 million in damages. Two people died in Washington DC.

Fran - 1996 - Hurricane Fran made landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina and weakened to a depression while moving through Virginia. Fran dropped up to 16 inches of rain in Big Meadows causing record flooding on the Potomac River and the Shenandoah River. Old Town Alexandria was partially evacuated as the river rose, flooding streets with more than three feet of water. Across Virginia, flooding from Fran caused $350 million in damages and killed 6 people.

Isabel – 2003 - A Category 2 hurricane hit the Mid-Atlantic region. This is the strongest storm to ever hit Washington/Baltimore region since record-keeping began in 1851. Isabel caused an unusually high storm surge (6-8 feet above normal) in the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River Basin. The storm made landfall near Drum Point on the NC Outer Banks then traveled north losing its tropical characteristics over western Pennsylvania. The storm caused a great deal of tree damage and extensive flash flooding. Fallen trees and limbs caused destruction to nearly 8,000 homes. Throughout the path of Isabel, damage totaled about $3.6 billion and caused 16 deaths in seven states.

Sandy - 2012 - Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles moving ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The hurricane affected at least 24 states, from Florida to Maine and west to Michigan and Wisconsin, with its most severe damage in New Jersey and New York. Parts of the New Jersey coastline were completely devastated. The storm surge hit New York City flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. Sandy caused 110 deaths, left millions without power, and caused an estimated $20 billion or more in damage.

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