Between Thursday and Saturday, heavy thunderstorms unloaded tremendous rainfall from Richmond to Fredericksburg, leading to flooding and causing some of the highest lake and river levels in decades in the region.
Early Friday morning, Richmond received over four inches of rain in just 60 minutes, its most extreme hourly total on record. It logged over two inches of rain in just 15 minutes, an incredible intensity that has less than 0.1 percent chance of happening any given year. In total, it registered 7.61 inches of rain Friday, its second-rainiest day in history.
High water around Richmond caused the airport to close for some time Friday morning, along with a number of roads. Several cars were stranded in floodwaters.
Precipitation analysis over the past week shows widespread totals between three and six inches from Richmond to Winchester, with pockets of six to 12 inches. Extremely high levels of atmospheric moisture combined with a stalled front facilitated the excessive rainfall.
Some of the heaviest rain fell in the Rappahannock River watershed, which pushed the river level to 25.2 feet Saturday, very close to major flood stage. This level, the eighth-highest on record, marked the river’s highest crest since September 1996.
The deluge sent water surging over docks along Lake Anna, located between Richmond and Fredericksburg. Capital Weather Gang contributor Steve Tracton measured more than five inches of rain at his gauge on the lake. “Water level rose 23 inches partially inundating the waterfront and overflowing the dock — my boat was close to floating off the boat lift,” he said. “Never seen anything like this in the 30 years I’ve had this property.”
To lower the water levels on the lake, Dominion Energy opened two radial gates on the dam, which can be seen from this helicopter vantage point:
The water level on the North Anna River, beneath the lake, crested at 27.59 feet, its second-highest level on record. It was only higher in June 1972, during Hurricane Agnes.
Below are photos of the flooding in Richmond, and more from the Rappahannock River and Lake Anna: