Though not a prominent location for severe weather like other parts of the United States, West Virginia still sees its fair share of severe weather. Whether the severe weather comes in the form of tornadoes, wind damage, hail damage, or flooding (the latter of which is so prominent, we’ll talk about that in a completely separate post), the inhabitants of the Mountain State are well aware of nature’s wrath even on our hills and valleys.
Just how often does the Mountain State see severe weather, in particular, our area? The answers are shown below! Data statistics are from the years 2000-2015, with data being provided by the National Weather Service. A report is taken in by weather observers, trained spotters, and National Weather Service employees. Fitzweather’s severe weather analysis for our region is divided in the following way:
- West Virginia (Statewide)
- Regional Comparison
- Braxton County
- Calhoun County
- Clay County
- Gilmer County
- Kanawha County
- Roane County
From 2000-2015, West Virginia had 4,052 total storm reports, which is an average of 253 reports per year. The most active year was in 2008, when 462 reports of severe weather were received, while the quietest year was 2005, when only 149 reports were received.
During the period, West Virginia saw 31 tornadoes, which is an average rate of 1.9 tornadoes per year. Interestingly, out of the 31 tornadoes that touched down in the Mountain State during the time frame, only a single tornado occurred in our area – an EF0 tornado, with an estimated wind speed of 80 mph recorded in the Youngs Bottom area of Kanawha County on March 19th, 2008. That tornado was approximately 50 yards wide, and caused a nearly 1/5 mile path.
1,310 hail reports occurred in West Virginia from 2000-2015, which is an average of 81.8 hail reports per year. The highest year of reported hail in the Mountain State was 234 reports in 2008. The lowest amount was 15 reports in 2013. Over twice as many wind reports occurred, with 2,711 reports received, which is an average of 169 reports per year. The highest year of reported wind in the Mountain State was 252 in 2011. The lowest amount was 104 in both 2001 and 2005.
In our region, Kanawha County easily beats all of the other counties in our region, with 261 total storm reports from 2000-2015. That’s nearly 4 times more than Braxton County, which had the next highest storm report total with 68, followed by Roane County (58), Calhoun County (49), Clay County (43), and Gilmer County.
Breaking it down furthermore, Kanawha County saw the most hail reports, with 88 reports, which was nearly half of all the reports received in our area during the period. Braxton County came in second at 27 hail reports, followed by Calhoun County (20), Clay and Gilmer Counties (17), and Roane County, with 15 reports. Kanawha County did received over half of all wind reports in our area from 2000-2015, with 172 wind reports. That’s 4 times more reports than Roane County at 43 reports, which is followed closely by Braxton County (41 reports), Calhoun County (29 reports), Clay County (26 reports), and Gilmer County (24 reports).
In Braxton County, there were 68 total storm reports between the years of 2000 and 2015, which is an average of 4.25 reports per year. The most reports occurred in 2011, when 9 reports took place, while the lowest annual reports was 1 in both 2010 and 2013.
27 hail reports were received during the era, which is an average of 1.7 reports per year. 2006 featured the most hail reports in Braxton County, with 5 hail reports, while 0 reports were reported in 2000, 2005, 2013, and 2014. 41 wind reports took place in the county, which is an average of 2.5 reports per year. Eight wind reports occurred in 2011, the most of any year during the period in the county, while no reports were reported in 2002, 2006, or 2010.
In Calhoun County, there were a total of 49 severe weather reports from 2000-2015, an average of 3 reports per year. In 2015, there were six storm reports in the county, which is more than any other year. Only a single report occurred in 2005, 2009, and 2013.
From 2006-2008, 4 hail reports were received each year, the most of any other year. However, in 2000, 2004-2005, 2009-2010, and from 2012-2014, no hail reports took place. In total, there were 20 hail reports, which is an average of 1.3 hail reports per year. 29 wind reports took place during the time period, which is an average of 1.8 hail reports per year. 5 wind reports were reported in 2010 and 2015, while no reports took place in 2006 and 2008.
Despite Clay County being one of our smaller counties, there were still 43 storm reports from 2000-2015, an average of 2.7 reports per year. In 2006, there were 8 reports, the most of any year during the time frame. Meanwhile, there were no severe weather reports in 2013.
17 hail reports were received during the period, an average of 1.1 reports per year. Nearly a third of those reports occurred in 2006 (5), the most of any year. No hail reports occurred in 2000, 2005, 2007, 2009, and from 2013-2015. 26 wind reports took place, an average of 1.6 wind reports per year. 3 reports was the maximum number of wind reports for a year during the period, which occurred in 2001, 2006-2007, and in 2015.
Gilmer County saw 41 total storm reports from 2000-2015, an average of 2.6 reports per year. In 2008, the county saw six reports, more than any other county, while 0 reports occurred in 2010.
17 hail reports took place during the period, an average of 1.1 reports per year. Nearly a quarter of those reports (4) took place in 2008, the most of any year during the time frame. No hail reports were received in 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010-2011, and 2013-2014. 24 wind reports were received during the time frame, an average of 1.5 reports per year. In 2007, 2012, and 2015, there were 3 wind reports, however, there were 0 reports in 2002, 2004, and 2010.
Kanawha County saw more reports than any other county in our region, with 261 reports taking place from 2000-2015, an average of 16.3 reports per year. In 2011, there were 39 storm reports, the most of any year in Kanawha County during the period. The following year, there were 38 storm reports in 2012. The lowest storm report total in Kanawha County took place in 2002, with only 2 reports taking place.
There were 88 hail reports that were received in Kanawha County, which is an average of 5.5 reports per year. 17 of those hail reports were received in 2013, with 16 in 2008. Despite the high totals in 2008 and 2013, there were no hail reports in 2002, 2010, and 2015. There were nearly twice as many wind reports during the time frame, with 172 reports taking place, an average of 10.8 reports per year. 33 of those reports took place in 2012, the most of any other year. However, there were only 2 wind reports in 2002.
58 total storm reports were received from 2000-2015 in Roane County, the third most of our region. That’s an average of 3.6 reports per year. In 2000, there were 7 storm reports, the most of any year. However, there was only a single report in 2011, the least amount of any year during the period.
There were 15 hail reports, an average of 0.9 reports per year. Over a quarter of those hail reports came in 2001 (4), which was the highest year with hail reports in Roane County. There were no hail reports in 2002, 2009-2013, and 2015. 43 wind reports were received in the county, an average of 2.7 reports per year. The highest number of wind reports occurred in 2000, with 6 reports. The lowest occurred in 2001, 2006, 2008, and 2011, when only a single wind report was taken.
West Virginia averaged over 250 storm reports from 2000-2015. That’s an average of about 5 reports per week. Kanawha County overwhelmingly averaged more storm reports than any other county in our region. This is very likely due to the much higher population of the county, which allows for more bodies to cover more locations of the county. Counties in our region that saw much lower figures, such as Clay and Gilmer Counties, have very low population densities, which could be the reason for the lower storm report totals.
In general, like anywhere else in the United States, West Virginia receives its fair share of severe weather, with a variety of severe weather occurring during the period studied.