Continuous weather records in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia go
back to 1 January 1871, when the National Weather Service was
established in downtown Norfolk. Prior to 1871, records of storms
have been located in ships' logs, newspaper accounts, history books
and other writings. The residents of colonial coastal Virginia
were very much aware of the weather. They were a people who lived
near the water and many derived their livelihood from the sea. To
them, a tropical storm was a noteworthy event. The excellent
records left by some of Virginia's early settlers and official
records of the National Weather Service are summarized here.
SEVENTEENTH AND EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURIES
1635 August 24 - First historical reference to a major hurricane
that could have affected the Virginia coast.
1667 September 6 - This hurricane may have caused the widening of
the Lynnhaven River. The Bay rose 12 feet
above normal and "many people had to flee".
1693 October 29 - From the Royal Society of London, "There
happened a most violent storm in Virginia,
which stopped the course of ancient channels
and made some where there never were any".
1749 October 19 - Tremendous hurricane. A sand spit of 800 acres
was washed up. and with the help of a hurricane
in 1806 it became Willoughby Spit. The Bay
rose 15 feet above normal.
Historical records list the following tropical storms as causing
significant damage in Virginia: 1649, September 1761, October 1761,
September 1769, September 1775, October 1783, September 1785, July
1806 August 23 - Called the "Great Coastal Hurricane of 1806".
1821 September 3 - One of the most violent hurricanes on record.
1846 September 8 - Hatteras and Oregon Inlets were formed.
1876 September 17 - Average 5 minute wind speed at Cape Henry was
78 mph; 8.32 inches of rain.
1878 October 23 - Cobb and Smith Islands on Eastern Shore were
completely submerged. Average 5 minute wind at
Cape Henry 84 mph. 18 lives lost when the A.S.
DAVIS went ashore near VA Beach.
1879 August 18 - Tide in Norfolk 7.67 feet above Mean Low Water.
Average 5 minute wind at Cape Henry 76 mph;
gusts estimated at 100 mph.
1887 October 31 - Average 5 minute wind at Cape Henry 78 mph.
The storm caused a record number of marine
1893 August 23 - Average 5 minute wind speed at Cape Henry 88
1897 October 25 - Lasted 60 hours. Tide in Norfolk 8 feet above
Mean Low Water
1899 October 31 - Average 5 minute wind at Cape Henry 72 mph.
Tide in Norfolk reached 8.8 feet above Mean
Noteworthy storms also occurred June 1825, August 1837, August 1850
and September 1856.
1903 October 10 - Average 5 minute wind at Cape Henry 74 mph;
tide in Norfolk reached nearly 9 ft. above Mean
Low Water. One death.
1924 August 26 - Average 1 minute wind 72 mph at Cape Henry.
1924 September 30 - Fastest 1 minute wind speed in Norfolk 76 mph.
1926 August 22 - Average 1 minute speed at Cape Henry 74 mph.
1928 September 19 - Average 1 minute speed at Cape Henry 72 mph.
Tide reached 7.06 feet above Mean Low Water in
Norfolk. One death.
1933 August 23 - Record high tide for the area -- 9.69 feet
above Mean Low Water. 18 people died. Highest
1 minute wind speed in Norfolk was 70 mph, 82
mph at Cape Henry and 88 mph at NAS.
1933 September 16 - Highest 1 minute wind was 88 mph at NAS
Norfolk, 75 mph at the National Weather Service
City Office and 87 mph at Cape Henry. Tide
reached 8.15 feet above Mean Low Water.
1936 September 18 - Highest 1 minute wind was 84 mph at Cape Henry
and 68 mph in Norfolk. Tide reached 9.19 feet
above Mean Low Water.
1944 September 14 - Highest 1 minute wind was 134 mph at Cape
Henry, the highest speed of record in the
Hampton Roads area. Gusts estimated 150 mph.
The NWS Office recorded 72 mph, gusts to 90 mph
In 1951 hurricanes began to be named according to the phonetic
alphabet (Abel, Baker, Charlie, etc.). In 1953, it was decided to
use women's names. Since 1979, both male and female names have
1953 August 14 - BARBARA - Highest 1 minute wind was 73 mph at
Cape Henry, 63 mph with gusts to 76 mph at
Norfolk Airport. One death.
1954 October 15 - HAZEL - Highest 1 minute wind 78 mph at the
Airport, the highest recorded at that location.
Gusts estimated to be 100 mph. A reliable
instrument in Hampton recorded 130 mph.
1959 September 30 - GRACIE - Passed through western Virginia. 6.79
inches of rain in 24 hours.
1960 September 12 - DONNA - Highest 1 minute wind at Norfolk
Airport was 73 mph, 80 mph at Cape Henry and
estimated 138 mph at the Chesapeake
Light Ship. The lowest pressure of 28.65
inches is the lowest ever recorded in a
tropical storm. Three deaths.
1962 March 5-9 - ASH WEDNESDAY STORM - Not a hurricane, the
storm was the most massive northeaster in
recorded East Coast history. From Florida to
New Jersey, thirty-four deaths and more than
$200 million in property damage were reported.
1964 August 31 - CLEO - A storm noted for its rain, 11.40 inches
in 24 hours, the heaviest 24 hour total since
records began in 1871.
*1964 September 13 -DORIA - Gales gusting to 61 mph. Tides 3 feet
*1969 August 16 - CAMILLE
*1971 September 29- GINGER
1972 June 23 - AGNES
1979 September 5 - DAVID - Passed through central Virginia but
spawned 2 severe tornadoes here - one in
Newport News and one in Hampton.
1985 September 27 - GLORIA - Passed 45 miles east of Cape Henry.
Highest 1 minute wind WNW 46 mph. Tide 5.2
feet above Mean Low Water, rainfall 5.65
inches. Total VA damage $5.5 million dollars.
1986 August 17 - CHARLEY - Highest 1 minute wind NNE 40 mph,
gusts E 63 mph at the Airport; Cape Henry NE 54
mph, gusts to 82 mph. Tide 5.4 feet above Mean
Low Water. One death in Northampton Co.
1991 August 19 - BOB -
1992 September 25 - DANIELLE -
1993 August 31 - EMILY -
*1994 November - GORDON -
* = The effects of the hurricane were felt in coastal Virginia,
although the storm did not hit us directly.