From the ABC 7 Weather team

Biggest weather events for the D.C. region in 2011

December 29, 2011 - 01:34 PM
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From January's thundersnow to April's tornado outbreak, the D.C. region really got walloped with some freakadelic weather this year.

A bus stop in Prince George's County during the September flooding.

This useless week between Christmas and New Year's is basically good for two things: Killing the refrigerator remains of whatever giant meat product you cooked for the holidays, and making lists. The National Weather Service has you covered on the latter activity, so make yourself a plate, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Below is the NWS timeline of this year's "top" weather events for the Washington / Baltimore region. Looking back on all that happened, it's clear that we really got walloped this year by some freakadelic weather. (Photo gallery.) I had completely forgotten about the wildfires that coated Virginia with dismal smoke. The tornado outbreak is less easy to stick in the memory rubbish box. It seems like the staff at the local NWS will be adding to the list in the days to come, so check back with them for updates.

Here goes:

Wrapping up 2011- During the last four days of the year, we are highlighting 12 of the biggest weather events to impact our area in 2011 (in chronological order)! Scroll through the page to find out more about the first 6 events on this list:

- January 26th Snow Blitz

Sometimes the wrong things happen at the wrong times. Heavy snow hit Washington and Baltimore right at the beginning of evening rush hour on January 26th. There were many reports of thunder and lightning occurring with the snow. Heavy snow continued through the evening hours with snowfall rates around 2 to 3 inches per hour during the height of the event.

While the final accumulations were not that notable (only 3-8” for much of the metro areas), the timing and ferocity of the snow caused downed trees and power lines, jack-knifed trucks, and traffic gridlock that lasted deep into the night. There were countless reports of commuters needing 5 to 10 hours to get home from work while others abandoned their vehicles. The Washington Post reported almost 400,000 people lost power in the D.C. area that evening.

February 19th Wind-driven Wildfires

Very strong winds combined with very dry conditions are not a good combination when it comes to fire threat. While we don't often have these conditions like they do in southern California from the Santa Ana winds, when they do happen, the danger is the same. Winds gusting 40 mph, combined with very dry air and a dry ground, allowed brush fires to pop up across the area. One fire manager described it as the worst fire day in our area he had seen in his 40 years in the department. The most notable fires were along I-95 which closed the interstate at times due to smoke.

- March 10 Tornadoes

The severe weather season for the Baltimore/Washington forecast area had an early start with damaging tornadoes during the first weeks of March. Two tornadoes damaged multiple structures near Chantilly, VA. Take a look at the following link for more information:

- April 16-17 Tornadoes and Flooding

A very active month for tornadoes continued on April 16- 17. Four tornadoes were reported in the forecast area (2 in Virginia and 2 in Maryland).

The same storm system was also accompanied by widespread rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches, with locally higher totals over 5 inches along the Blue Ridge. Significant flash flooding near the Blue Ridge included numerous reports of water rescues and roads washed out in Frederick County, Maryland; and several reports of landslides, and bridges overtopped by water in Warren and Clarke Counties in Virginia.

The Monocacy River reached major flood, cresting at 20.6 feet. Moderate flooding occurred on the Shenandoah River and its headwater tributaries. Water overflowed one of these tributaries on the South Fork Shenandoah River, Rockfish Run, sweeping away a family of 3 who were trying to cross the creek at that time. Although 1 member of the family was rescued, 2 of the 3 could not be reached and were casualties of the floodwaters.

- April 27-28 Tornado Outbreak

This tornado outbreak was the worst outbreak the region had seen since the remnants of Hurricane Ivan swept across in 2004, and was by far the most tornadoes ever recorded in the Baltimore-Washington forecast area for a two-day period in April. It took over two weeks to survey areas suspected of sustaining tornado damage. A total of 19 tornadoes touched down in the forecast area, including one EF-2 (winds up to 130 mph) that tracked 33 miles across northwest Virginia between 2-3 AM on the 28th. This tornado was responsible for two minor injuries, which fortunately were the only two reported in the forecast area during the entire event.

During a 20-hour period from the late afternoon on the 27th through midday on the 28th, WFO Baltimore-Washington issued 38 tornado warnings. This ranks second in total number of tornado warnings compared to the 43 tornado warnings issued during the roughly six-hour period on September 17, 2004 as the remnants of Ivan moved through the region.

This event was also the continuation of one of the largest and deadliest tornado outbreaks in our nation?s history that devastated Alabama and Mississippi and much of the Deep South.

- July 7-8 Flash Flooding in Baltimore

Heavy downpours from a line of slow-moving showers and thunderstorms lead to numerous incidences of flash flooding across north-central Maryland from Frederick to Baltimore down to Annapolis. Rainfall rates of over 1 inch per hour with rainfall totals around 3 inches were observed in a short period of time. Numerous swift-water rescues were conducted across the greater Baltimore metropolitan area.

YouTube video of flash flooding in Frederick, Maryland on July 8:

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