The Top 5 Local Weather Events of Each Year (2003 - Present)
Top 5 Local Weather Events of 2010:
*5* Sat 12/25: It has undoubtedly been an active weather year when a surprise Christmas Day snowstorm just barely makes it into my list of the top 5 local weather events of the year! A surprise snowstorm dumped 3 to 6 inches during the afternoon and evening on Christmas Day, though it didn't stick much to roads until after sunset so drivers were not impacted as much as they could have been. This storm was poorly forecast by nearly all computer models and meteorologists.
*4* Thu 09/30: Very heavy rain fell between midnight and 8 AM. The Jones Creek (8.07") and Marrowbone Reservoir (7.95") recorded the highest storm total amounts (Wed-Thu), with over 6 inches of that falling within a 6-hour period from midnight to 6 AM Thursday. Flooding was reported in parts of Bassett and Martinsville. For comparison, our normal rainfall amount for all of September AND October is just 7.1 inches.
*3* Fri 02/05: Our second winter storm in less than a week brought a wintry mix of precipitation to the area. Snow fell during the morning, then the precipitation changed to a mixture of sleet and freezing rain which continued into the evening. Northern parts of Henry County generally picked up between 6 and 8 inches while reports from the Ridgeway area ranged from 4 to 5 inches.
*2* Summer: The summer of 2009 was included in the top weather events because it was unusually cool. The summer of 2010 turned out to be the exact opposite. The heat wasn't extreme (we only hit 100 twice, on July 7 and 8), but the heat had an unusually long duration, sticking around throughout the entire summer. When all was said and done, our high temperature was at or above 90° on 96 days. 70 of those days were during June, July, and August.
*1* Sat 1/30: Snow began around 9 PM Friday and continued all day Saturday, accumulating to 7 to 11 inches across the county with the highest amounts in the Bassett area and toward northern Patrick County. Snow plows had an unusually difficult time clearing the roads after this winter storm, resulting in poor road conditions that persisted throughout the following week.
Top 5 Local Weather Events of 2009:
#5 - Sat 01/17: The temperature at the Blue Ridge Airport dropped to a low of 0 degrees on this date (the low at the museum was 5 degrees), making this our coldest morning in nearly 13 years. The only colder day I have on record (since I started keeping records in March 1995) was February 5, 1996, when I recorded a low of 2 below zero and the airport actually fell to 9 below.
#4 - Summer: This summer was unusually cool and dry. Between June 18 and August 4, it did rain on 13 days, but most of the rain was light, totaling just 1.57" during what is typically our wettest time of the year. In addition, the period between August 5 and 11 was the only time during the entire summer when we saw several days with highs in the mid to upper 90s. Aside from that period, we never got above the lower 90s and saw many highs just in the 80s.
#3 - Wed 11/11: 2.84 inches of rain fell on this date in the midst of a significant rain event. In all, 5.30 inches of rain would fall during this 3-day period. Moderate flooding was reported across the area. This event brought our yearly rainfall total solidly above normal after we were below normal for almost the entire year.
#2 - Sun 03/01: In any one of the last several years, the major snowstorm that hit our area in early March would have been #1, but it was eclipsed by an even bigger snowstorm. A wintry mix began in the morning then changed to snow in the afternoon, continuing through the night. Total accumulations in the county ranged from about 6 to 9 inches.
#1 - Fri 12/18: I'm sure my choice for our top weather event of 2009 won't surprise anyone. After several winters with very little snow, we saw our second major snowstorm this year and the biggest storm across the region since the Blizzard of '96! Locally, most people reported between 8 and 11 inches of snow from about 1 PM Friday through about 11 AM Saturday. The event was mostly snow, but we did see a period of sleet overnight, holding totals down a bit.
Top 5 Local Weather Events of 2008:
#5 - Mon 04/28: After a very dry winter, two rain events within 10 days of each other dropped nearly 4 inches of rain. That rain pushed April's rainfall total to 6.35 inches, the highest total for any month in 2008. Still, year-to-date precipitation remained slightly below normal, and that would continue throughout the year.
#4 - Thu 07/31: A brief but intense thunderstorm dropped an astounding 0.99" of rain (at the Blue Ridge Airport station) in just 20 minutes, shortly after 1 PM. Total rainfall from the storm reached 1.18 inches, more than half the total for the month of July. The airport also recorded a wind gust of 44 mph.
#3 - Thu 01/17: The only winter storm of significance this year brought just a light mixture of wintry precipitation to the area. Snow began around 5 AM; it changed to sleet during the 8:00 hour, then to freezing rain later in the morning. Snow and sleet accumulation of 1 to 1.5 inches, with a light coating of ice on top. For the month of January as a whole only 0.89" of precipitation fell, which was just 26% of normal.
#2 - Tue 06/10: While temperatures averaged below normal in August, the summer started off on a hot note. We had a 6-day streak with highs of 97 or above in early June, lasting from June 5 through June 10. That streak included highs of 97, 99, 99, and concluded with three straight highs of 100 degrees.
#1 - Thu 05/08: Multiple strong to severe thunderstorms hit the area in the evening and overnight hours. 3 to 6 inches of rain fell throughout the county. A weak tornado hit just north of Figsboro. A Tornado Watch, two Tornado Warnings and two Severe Thunderstorm Warnings were issued at different times throughout the evening. A Flash Flood Warning continued until midday on the 9th.
Top 5 Local Weather Events of 2007:
#5 - Sat 02/24: The dew point, a measure of the amount of moisture in the air, had already dropped below zero for two straight days, when it dropped to the lowest level I've ever recorded on this date, thanks to an incredibly dry air mass. At 3 PM, the dew point fell to an unbelievably low (and dry) 15 degrees below zero, beating the previous record low dew point of -11 the prior December (which made my 2006 list of top 5 events). The temperature was 57 at the time, which gave us a relative humidity of just 4%.
#4 - Thu 02/01: Snow fell from about 11 AM until about 2 PM, ending as a brief period of sleet. Temperatures remained slightly above freezing during the event, so total snow accumulation was around a half inch at most. The bigger story, however, was that this was the biggest (and really the only) snowstorm of the entire winter. Temperatures averaged just 2.4 degrees above normal for the winter, but we received the least total snowfall in many, many years.
#3 - Sat 10/27: This was the last day of a four-day heavy rain event. Final storm total rainfall at my house was 5.28", with 5.24" of that falling within a 3-day period. The remaining 0.04" fell after midnight, early Saturday morning. The 5.24" of rain is our highest 3-day total in the last 10 years. The highest total reported in Henry County was 8.99" at the Martinsville Hydroelectric plant. Snow Creek (in Franklin County) received the most rainfall in the region, with an incredible four-day total of 11.28".
#2 - Thu 05/31: Northern Henry County and Martinsville City were under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning from 7:53 PM until 10:00 PM. A Flash Flood Warning was in effect from 9:19 PM until 1:15 AM Friday. 3 to 5 inches of rain fell in the northern half of the county (nearly all of that in about a 3 hour period). My rain gauge recorded 4.55". In my 12 years of data, this set a new record for the highest rainfall total in a 24-hour period.
#1 - Wed 08/08: For the first time since I began keeping records in 1995, we climbed above the 100-degree mark, with a high of 102. We would ultimately have three highs of 102 in the month, and a total of five highs at or above 100. We also had three consecutive days at or above 100 for the first time on record. For the month of August as a whole, the high was at or above 90 degrees on 30 out of 31 days, and the lone exception was a high of 88 on August 23.
Top 5 Local Weather Events of 2006:
#5 - March 2006: What turned out to be a rather quiet weather year overall began with a warm winter and a very dry March. Our lackluster winter ended with a little bit of snow and sleet on the 20th, but temperatures were in the mid 40s so there was no accumulation. For the month as a whole, just 0.64" of precipitation fell, which was well below the normal amount of 3.9". This was our driest month since just a trace of rain fell in October of 2000.
#4 - Sat 02/11: Rain began around 4 AM, then changed to snow between 6 and 9 AM. Snow then continued until about midnight Saturday night. Accumulations ranged from about 2 to 5 inches throughout Henry County, with much less on roads due to above-freezing temperatures during the event. This storm accounted for about half of the total snowfall during the disappointing 2005-06 winter season. Also, the temperature was exactly 34 for almost 13 straight hours, from 9:40 AM until 10:20 PM.
#3 - Mon 06/26: Eastern Henry County and Martinsville were under a Tornado Warning from 4:05 PM until 4:45 PM. Several people spotted a funnel cloud, but there were no reports of a tornado actually touching down. Henry County was also under a Flash Flood Warning from 5 to 8 PM. A Flood Watch was in effect from noon Saturday through 7 PM Tuesday, a total of 79 hours. A total of 4.46 inches of rain fell between Friday and Tuesday.
#2 - Sat 12/09: The dew point dropped to -11 in the early afternoon, the lowest dew point ever recorded at the Martinsville Airport since records began in 1997. The previous record low dew point was -8. The temperature at the time was 50 degrees, and the relative humidity was 7%. The dew point dropped to -8 again on December 11. During the 8-day span from December 4 through December 11, the dew point fell to at least 3 degrees or lower every day but one.
#1 - Fri 08/04: This was the last day of an intense 4-day heat wave. The high reached 97 degrees on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and it got all the way up to 99 on Wednesday. Morning lows were in the lower 70s each day, and the dew point reached 79 each afternoon from Tuesday through Thursday. The high of 99 was our highest temperature since we reached 100 on August 13, 2002.
Top 5 Local Weather Events of 2005:
#5 - Thu 07/07: Remnants from Tropical Storm Cindy moved through the area. We were under a Tornado Watch for 13 straight hours, the first from 9 AM to 4 PM and the second from 4 PM to 10 PM. We were under a Flood Watch from 8 AM Thursday until 2 AM Friday. Rainfall amounts ranged from 1.5 to 3 inches throughout the county with minor flooding. I recorded 1.69" in my rain gauge, which was the second-highest one-day total of the year, below 1.78" on November 21.
#4 - Late July: The dew point is a measure of the amount of moisture in the air. Generally, when the dew point is above 70 degrees, it feels very sticky and humid outside. The dew point was at or above 70 for about 236 straight hours, from 5:00 PM on Sunday 7/10 through 1:20 PM on Wednesday 7/20. Also, dew points above 80 degrees are very rare in this area. Tuesday, July 26 was the first time I have ever seen the dew point reach 82, and it did so again on Wednesday, July 27.
#3 - Fri 07/01: Two consecutive Severe Thunderstorm Warnings were issued from 4:18 PM until 6:00 PM. A Flash Flood Warning was also issued from 5:45 PM until 8:45 PM. Hail up to 3/4 inch in diameter was reported in Bassett and Collinsville, and lightning and wind damage were reported in some locations. Nearly all of the 1.35" rain recorded on this date fell in about 30 minutes. Due to the heavy rain, the temperature dropped from 91 to 73 in about 30 minutes as well.
#2 - Mon 02/28: Snow began around 8 PM Sunday and continued until about 2 PM Monday. Some rain and sleet mixed in Monday morning, but most of the precipitation fell in the form of snow. Snow accumulation ranged from 5 to 9 inches across the county. Henry County Schools were closed on Monday and Tuesday, and went on a 2 hour delay on Wednesday. This was the most significant county-wide snowstorm since January 1996, although the southeastern part of the county picked up as much as a foot of snow on January 25, 2000.
#1 - Thu 12/15: Sleet began around 4 AM, then changed to freezing rain late in the morning, and eventually to rain by mid-afternoon. The rain ended around 8 PM. There was a little over 1.0 inch of sleet accumulation in northwestern Henry County but the precipitation mostly fell as freezing rain in southeastern Henry County. Power went out in many parts of the county due to the 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice accumulation on trees and power lines, and was out in some places for up to 3 days.
Top 5 Local Weather Events of 2004:
#5 - Mon 12/20: A very strong cold front moved through, bringing the coldest weather so far this winter. The high temperature was only 32 under full sunshine, and the morning low was 9. Wind chills were as low as -10. The last time we had a similar day, with a high at or below freezing under a sunny sky, was December 26, 2000. Grandfather Mountain, in western North Carolina, recorded a low temperature of -13.
#4 - Fri 02/06: An extremely strong warm front made for a very unusual day. I predicted a high of 55, but the warm front didn't quite make it here, and the high was only 36. That was my worst high temperature forecast ever. Meanwhile, locations such as Raleigh and Norfolk, on the other side of the front, were in the 70s.
#3 - Wed 09/08: Heavy rain fell in the area from the remnants of Hurricane Frances. This was the wettest day of 2004, as 4.30" of rain fell at my house. Western North Carolina received the most rain, as 17.75" of rain fell in Black Mountain near Asheville.
#2 - Wed 06/16: As much as 5-7" of rain fell in just a 2-3 hour period in southern Henry County early this morning, leading to flooding. Portions of Route 220 were closed for a while due to the flooding. There were reports of up to 10" of rain in northern Rockingham County, just to the south of Henry County. 2 people were killed in Henry County due to the floodwaters.
#1 - Fri 09/17: A tornado moved through the western part of Henry county, causing significant damage to the CP Films building in Fieldale. Heavy rain also fell, with 2.02" falling at my house. The severe weather and heavy rain came from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan.
Top 5 Local Weather Events of 2003:
#5 - Sun 07/13: A nearly stationary thunderstorm brought close to 4" of rain to Southwestern Henry County in the evening hours. A Flash Flood Warning was in effect for a few hours due to the heavy rains.
#4 - Sun 02/16: The President's Day Storm brought several feet of snow to the Northeast, and around 3" sleet in this area. As a whole, this was the worst winter storm of the season in the eastern United States.
#3 - Thu 08/14: The dew point reached 81° at 7:20 PM with a temperature of 82°, resulting in a heat index of 94°. A dew point in the 80s is very rare and signifies incredible instability in the atmosphere, which in turn leads to a good chance of severe thunderstorms (although that did not happen on this day). The last time the dew point reached 81° here was July 22, 1999.
#2 - Thu 09/18: Hurricane Isabel brought about 2.5" of rain to the area, but more importantly caused strong and damaging winds which resulted in many downed trees and power lines. Estimated wind gusts reached 60 mph in the evening. The last time a hurricane significantly affected this area was Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
#1 - Thu 01/23: 4" snow overnight into early Thursday. The core of the arctic air moved across VA/NC which is an incredibly rare occurrence. Even with partial sunshine, the high only managed to reach 23°. The last time something even remotely similar happened was in 1989. In addition, the Outer Banks of NC received 8-12" of snow, and Cape Canaveral, FL reported light snow for the first time since 1989.