Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Too much rain so far this year? Think again

While 2018 has seemed like it may have been a year with an extreme amount of precipitation, such a perception is only partially correct.

With less than two months remaining in the year, total precipitation amounts to just under 49 inches – recorded through Nov. 7 by the National Weather Service at its official collection site at the Norfolk International Airport.

That’s a little above average, which in Hampton Roads is 46 inches annually, but it’s certainly not extreme.

So while the year has been wet, it hasn’t been excessively so region-wide, and is well under the 68.86 inches the region received in 2016, which is the third wettest year on record.

Nevertheless, many locations in the region saw heavy rainfall for long periods, leading to roads and neighborhoods frequently flooded, or very nearly so.

Eswar Iyer, a meteorologist with the NWS in Wakefield, said precipitation in the area can be impacted in a couple of ways: Rain systems can enter the area via the traditional west-to-east weather patterns, and also by tropical systems that come up from the south.

“A few storms earlier in the year stalled over the Mid-Atlantic,” he said.

Historically, he said, it’s more common for weather to move through the region fairly quickly. Recently though the systems have moved much more slowly — even stalling over or nearly over Hampton Roads — allowing them to drop more rain than they typically would.

The flooding some areas of Hampton Roads have seen is often because of a combination of things: rainfall, wind, and sea level rise, which also impacts inland waterways.

For 2017, Iyer said, precipitation was also a few inches above average, at 49.16 inches.

“A lot of these systems have settled over the area instead of passing through,” he said.

The wettest year on record is 1889, when more than 70 inches of precipitation fell on the area.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

Related Articles