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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 12/31/2008

Top Five Local Weather Events: 2008

By Ann Posegate

Wx and the City

* Full Forecast *

Earlier this week, guest contributor Robert Henson ran down his selection of the top 10 (1-5, 6-10) U.S. weather events of 2008. But what about the year's most memorable D.C. area weather stories?

With tornadoes ripping through the Midwest and South, floods drenching Iowa and the Midwest, hurricanes devastating the Gulf Coast and snow piling up in the northern U.S., this year's Washington area weather may seem like nothing to write home about. But looking back, we had more than a handful of notable local weather events. Our top five picks are...

1. Feb. 12: Ice Storm. The storm that began with a Winter Weather Advisory and later warranted an Ice Storm Warning resulted in flurries, freezing rain, sleet, and plenty of traffic snarls the day of the Potomac Primary.

Keep reading for more on the Potomac Primary ice storm and the rest of the top five local weather events of 2008...

Capital Weather Gang meteorologist A. Camden Walker captures a deserted, icy Logan Circle on the evening of Feb. 12.

Precipitation was difficult to predict due to uncertainty as to when temperatures would rise above freezing. Freezing rain arrived in the afternoon, just in time for the evening commute and poll closings, and lasted through the night. Poor driving conditions and accidents across the metro area made it difficult for many voters to get to the polls. Maryland even extended state-wide polling hours by an hour-and-a-half to accommodate voters stuck in traffic.

2. Late April: Thunderstorms and Tornadoes The Earth Day celebration and concerts on the National Mall on Sunday April 20 were a washout. Messy, drenching, dangerous bands of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms moved in from the south and southwest in the afternoon, causing thousands of visitors to take shelter in Smithsonian museums. High winds were an issue as well. Two tornadoes touched down in Maryland: an EF-0 in Charles County and an EF-1 in Chillum, just west of Hyattsville. Ironically, the National Weather Service's Doppler radar in Sterling, Va., malfunctioned just before the storms began and no tornado warnings were issued. Just over a week later (on April 28th), an EF-3 tornado was reported in Suffolk, Va. -- one of eight tornadoes confirmed in the state that day.

3. May: Record Rains & Floods Much-needed rain in May put an end to a several-month-long drought in the mid-Atlantic. Several rainfall records were set during this soggy month, which ended as the second wettest May on record. Rainfall totals for the month were: 10.66 inches at Reagan National; 7.77 inches at BWI; and 9.38 inches at Dulles. The major culprit was the May 11th and 12th storm, which dumped around four inches of rain on the region within 24 hours. The storm's impacts included flooding, road closures, power outages, school closures, and a 10-foot-deep sinkhole in Camp Springs, Md.

4. June: Severe Thunderstorms June was a whopper for thunderstorms -- 19 were recorded at Reagan National. The storms, some of them severe, occurred on 13 days spread out over the month. Three consecutive days was the longest stretch Reagan National went during the month without a thunderstorm. (Unfortunately, some of these storm-free days occurred during an oppressive early-summer heat wave, when cooling rains would have been welcome).

The marquee event for the month was the historic severe thunderstorm outbreak on June 4. A series of severe thunderstorms moved through the region from early afternoon through evening, bringing tornadoes to Virginia and Maryland, and strong winds, large hail and widespread power outages across the metro area. The National Weather Service issued a total of 70 severe thunderstorm, marine and tornado warnings in the Baltimore-Washington region. There was one fatality in northern Virginia due to a tree limb falling on a truck.

5. Sept. 5-6: Tropical Storm Hanna Tropical Storm Hanna was one soldier in an army of hurricanes and tropical storms that hit the eastern and southern U.S. in September. A Tropical Storm Warning and Flood Watch were issued for the metro area and Eastern Shore on Friday the 5th, and residents were busy preparing for power outages and floods. Hanna approached the Baltimore-Washington region from the south and turned northeastward early morning on the 6th, moving quickly over the Chesapeake Bay and into Delaware.

During the several hours Hanna hung around the D.C. area, it brought heavy rains and wind speeds between 15 and and 40 mph. While winds weren't quite as strong as predicted, rainfall amounts were high and caused flooded roadways and high water levels in area rivers and the Bay. The heaviest rain bands occurred just west of the District. Some homes in Fairfax County were evacuated due to flooding. There was one storm-related fatality reported.

Would you choose differently, or do you think we're forgetting something? Please vote in our poll and share your comments and 2008 storm stories below.

By Ann Posegate  | December 31, 2008; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Local Climate, Nature, Posegate, Wx and the City  
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Good list -- I think the June severe weather was personally most interesting. It was quite the barrage of storms.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 31, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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