National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Severe weather preparedness takes awareness, planning and then action.  You can't effectively take action in an imminent hazardous weather event unless you have some sort of plan in place, and you can't develop a robust hazardous weather plan unless you understand the threats you may face.  

Here's where history can help us...

As the Churchill quote directs, we can look back at our history and get a good understanding of the weather threats we should be prepared for.  Weather records in our region date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s and that history is full of floods, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and crippling winter storms.  The resources below are meant to help document and quantify some of these threats in order to help inform the planning stage of severe weather preparedness.

 

Flash Flood Climatology

Flash Flooding is a frequent cause of damage and loss of life in our region.  No county is immune.  While flash flooding is most frequent during the afternoon and evening hours during the summer months, it can happen in any month of the year and any hour of the day.  The following information and statistics were gathered from the NOAA Storm Data database for the 49 counties in the NWS Charleston, WV County Warning Area.

 

 
 

 


 

Flood Fatality History

Flooding is the biggest overall weather threat in our region with numerous floods and flash floods occurring during any given year.  Unfortunately, many people have lost their lives over the years due to flooding in our region.  The following information and statistics were gathered from the flood deaths recorded in the NOAA Storm Data database for the 49 counties in the NWS Charleston, WV County Warning Area.

 

 
 

Tornado History

Our region has experienced many tornadoes over the years including several intense and long tracked tornadoes.  Only five of the 49 counties in the NWS Charleston, WV County Warning Area do not have a documented tornado, and tornadoes have likely occurred in those counties but just not been reported. 

  • ‚ÄčTornado Database: View a comprehensive, sortable database of all documented tornadoes that have occurred in the NWS Charleston, WV County Warning Area.  Detailed statistics are available for each tornado including tornado track length, width, strength, deaths and injuries and a narrative of the event, where available.
Quick Facts About the Tornado History of Our Region
Total Number  Earliest Recorded  Longest Track Strongest Deadliest
160

May 12, 1886
Meigs County, OH
F4

86 miles
March 2, 2012
Menifee KY, Morgan KY, Lawrence KY, Johnson KY, Wayne WV, Lincoln WV

F5
April 23, 1968
Scioto OH, Lawrence OH, Gallia OH

100 Dead / 381 Injured
June 23, 1944
Marion WV, Harrison WV, Taylor WV, Barbour WV, Randolph WV

 
 

Snowfall Extremes

Snowstorms, while not frequent, have paralyzed our region for days and caused major hardships on the population.  In fact, the Great Appalachian Storm of November 1950, which is responsible for many of the one-day snowfall records illustrated on the map, persisted for several days and is responsible for the West Virginia state record 3-day snow total of 57.2" from Coeburn Creek in Harrison County.

  • Additional county based snowfall record information can be obtained from the National Centers for Environmental Information Snowfall Extremes webpage.

Historical Cold Snaps

Weather records indicate several dangerous cold snaps have occurred across the region.  These include December 1899, January 1912, January 1985, January 1994 and February 2015.  Many of the observed record cold temperatures in the map to the left were set during one of those cold snaps. 

Snowfall Climatology

The number of days it snows and the amounts of snow varies widely across NWS Charleston’s area of responsibility due to varied terrain and elevation. This study documents and illustrates this variability for 20 sites across the NWS Charleston area of responsibility.  Read More...