Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): While Hilary made rain headlines in the West early this week, the StormWatch 4 weather team examined the highest rainfall-producing tropical system to impact West Virginia.
It’s official….Hurricane Hillary was a record breaker out west Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Each of those states registered the most rain from a tropical system since records began. Death Valley had its wettest day on record. San Diego and Palm Springs, wettest August days on record. The storm basically was the perfect recipe for heavy rain as it produced an abundant amount of moisture that surged north into the western U.S.
And as we switch gears in the West Virginia, what is the tropical system that produced the most rain in our state? We have to go back before tropical storms and hurricanes were named October 10th through the 13th of 1942. A storm moved to the North Carolina coast and then stalled. 16 inches of rain fell in Augusta, West Virginia.
Now you can see the highest amounts of rain with this storm were along and just west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which includes the panhandle of West Virginia. Since the Route 19 to I-64 corridor was shadowed by a downsloping wind, the rainfall totals weren’t that bad. They ranged anywhere from an inch to 1.5 inches, including Oak Hill, Beckley, Summersville Rainelle, White Sulfur Springs and Hinton.
Now, as this storm pushed inland, there was a big high pressure to the north that allowed an easterly wind fetch to increase. The stronger the easterly component to the wind, the more moisture that will bank up against the eastern slopes of the mountains. So that’s why the Eastern West Virginia panhandle got dumped on with more rain than the Route 19 corridor (on the western flank of the Alleghenies).
Chief Meteorologist Chad Merrill’s Latest Forecast: