A look back at the weather that caused the 2016 floods

GREENBRIER, WV (WOAY) – On this day four years ago, a massive flood-affected portion of West Virginia. Greenbrier County was one of the worst affected counties where thousands of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.

“We anticipated some significant rainfall and a need for a flash flood watch. That was out well in advance. Sometime overnight for that upcoming day,” said Meteorologist in Charge Steve Keighton from the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, VA.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service knew that June 23, 2016, would be a very rainy day. As an area of low pressure was sitting over Indiana with a cold front to the west, a warm front to the east, and an outflow boundary out ahead of the low. Throughout the day, the low moved slowly to the southeast, which allowed unusually large amounts of moisture to move over West Virginia.

“In this particular case, because this inflow of moisture just kept on coming right on up to the front you’d have one line of storms that would come through, and then more would form back behind it, back up in Ohio and western West Virginia, and that would develop and come across too. Because you constantly had this inflow of additional moisture that lasted all day,” said Steve Keighton.

Due to the constant barrage of rain, the National Weather Service issued twelve flash flood warnings and two flash flood emergencies, which indicate that significant flooding will affect a populated area. Throughout twelve hours, over nine inches of rain fell across portions of Greenbrier County. The substantial amounts of rain lead to severe river flooding, which the National Weather Service says is a concern even after the rain has stopped.

”One of the things that people need to keep in mind is the river flooding that comes after a big heavy rain event. And we had some historic river flooding that came in the days following that so people must keep in mind that just because the rain stops doesn’t mean the water is going to stop rising,” said Meteorologist in Charge Jamie Bielinski from the National Weather Service in Charleston, WV.

While a flood of this proportion is rare, the National Weather Service recommends to have a plan in place ahead of time and to pay attention to watches and warnings when they are issued.