The tropics have been quiet over the past few weeks, but historically, Hampton Roads has seen a few hurricanes to impact our area during the month of July. I did some digging through Virginia’s Hurricane History from the National Weather Service to see how storms have impacted our area in July.
In July 1959, Hurricane Cindy produced wind speeds around 45 mph in Norfolk, with gusts up to 46 mph. However, the biggest impact from the storm was tornadoes. Cindy produced small but violent tornadoes that struck portions of Norfolk and Portsmouth.
In July 1996, Hurricane Bertha was the earliest Cape Verde hurricane ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean without disruption. In fact, the hurricane rocked the Mid-Atlantic coast. While Bertha made landfall in North Carolina, the storm went on to produce wind gusts to 54 mph in Portsmouth on July 13th. Several tree limbs fell on power lines, causing temporary power outages in the area. More than four inches of rain fell across southeastern Virginia during the event.
And one of the strongest storms to affect Hampton Roads during the month of July was Danny in July 1997. Danny made landfall as a hurricane in Louisiana. Although it weakened into a tropical depression over land, Danny unusually restrengthened into a tropical storm over land, too – in North Carolina, before emerging into the Atlantic Ocean near Virginia Beach. According to the National Weather Service, on July 24, 1997, Danny produced wind gusts to 56 mph in Portsmouth, gusts to 67 mph at the Norfolk Naval Air Station, and wind gusts to 61 mph at Langley Air Force Base, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and Cape Henry. A number of trees and power lines were downed throughout Norfolk and surrounding communities during the event. Danny also produced a few tornadoes in the area. One tornado touched down in the South Norfolk section of Chesapeake, overturning a tractor trailer and destroying a car wash and six other businesses. A second tornado near Norfolk destroyed several windows in the area and tracked a mile east across the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River. And a third tornado touched down at Knotts Island.
So while conditions are quiet for now in the tropics, and our peak hurricane season doesn’t arrive until August and September, we cannot let our guard down. July storms have caused a great deal of damage in Hampton Roads in the past, something to keep in mind this hurricane season.