A Look Back: Rare Supercell Storm Drops Massive Hail

West Virginia
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On August 30th, 2006, a rare supercell thunderstorm passed through the Interstate 64 corridor between Huntington and Charleston causing significant hail and wind damage in its path. In addition, rainfall rates were so extreme that flash flooding was also reported. In total, over twenty storm reports across seven counties was reported, with the most significant weather taking place in Kanawha County, where hail as large as 2.75″ in diameter (baseball sized) was reported.

The Storm Prediction Center did not indicate a risk for severe weather in their morning severe weather outlook. The main weather feature across the region was an inverted trough that basically bisected West Virginia vertically. With the associated trough, there was not much sunshine recorded during the day across much of the upper Ohio River Valley region, but there was a significant amount of wind shear present. Once the thunderstorm began to form in eastern Kentucky, it fueled itself and grew thanks in large part to this abundance of wind shear (changes in wind speed and direction over vertical height in the atmosphere). 

The storm began to form and became strong over eastern Carter County, Kentucky near the Rush area, with the first severe thunderstorm warning being issued for Boyd County at 12:53 p.m.

The storm then continued to travel east and remain parallel along Interstate 64, moving into West Virginia over the next hour. In addition to gusty winds knocking trees, extreme rainfall rates caused high water in parts of Boyd and Cabell County between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

The storm became quite powerful as it crossed from Putnam County into Kanawha County around 3:00 p.m.. The storm increased in intensity significantly as it crossed into the Saint Albans area, with storm relative velocity values reporting 67 mph between Nitro and Saint Albans.

The storm reached its peak in intensity as it crossed into portions of central and eastern Kanawha County. Dangerous hail as large as baseballs fell across portions of north Charleston, including at Capital High School, resulting in vehicles being dented. A tornado originally reported in the Guthrie area of northern Kanawha County near Sissonville was reviewed by a team at the National Weather Service and ultimately was determined to be a microburst (downdraft with very strong wind coming down to the surface). 

The storm then crossed into Clay, Nicholas, and Fayette counties, continuing to drop large hail until the storm weakened over eastern Nicholas County. In total, it took about five hours for the supercell to cover the region. Many areas saw 1-2 inches of rainfall in as little as thirty minutes as a result of the storm, with areas in eastern Kanawha County seeing 2.5″-4″ in as little as 45 minutes, causing significant flash flooding in the Pinch region.

STORM REPORTS IN OUR REGION (ORGANIZED BY TIME)

  • 12:30 p.m. – (BOYD COUNTY) – Calvary Christian Pre-School in Ashland is evacuated along Bear Creek due to flash flooding.
  • 12:30 p.m. – (BOYD COUNTY) – Trees are down along Route 3 from Mavity to Cannonsburg in Boyd County.
  • 1:00 p.m. – (WAYNE COUNTY) – Trees are down on Skyview Drive and on Dock’s Creek in Wayne.
  • 1:20 p.m. – (CABELL COUNTY) – Trees are down along Route 2 near Lesage in northern Cabell County.
  • 1:49 p.m. – (CABELL COUNTY) – Spring Valley area if flooded near Huntington.
  • 3:00 p.m. – (PUTNAM COUNTY) – Large limbs are down in Teays Valley. 2.45″ of rain has fallen.
  • 3:03 p.m. – (PUTNAM COUNTY) – 1″ hail reported in Scott Depot.
  • 3:27 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – Trees are down in Dunbar.
  • 3:28 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 2″+ diameter hail reported in downtown Charleston.
  • 3:36 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 2″+ diameter hail reported in downtown Charleston.
  • 3:39 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 1.25″ diameter hail reported in downtown Charleston.
  • 3:40 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 1.00″ diameter hail reported in Big Chimney.
  • 3:40 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – Golfball to baseball (2.75″) sized hail reported at Capital High School. Vehicles are dented.
  • 3:44 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 2″+ diameter hail reported in downtown Charleston.
  • 3:45 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 0.88″ diameter hail reported in Elkview.
  • 3:50 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – A tornado is reported in the Fisher Branch Road area of Guthrie. A team of National Weather Service employees determine that the tornado was actually a microburst.
  • 3:52 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 1.25″ diameter hail reported in downtown Charleston.
  • 3:53 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 2″+ diameter hail reported in downtown Charleston.
  • 4:11 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 1.75″ diameter hail reported in downtown Charleston.
  • 4:15 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 1.75″ diameter hail reported in downtown Charleston. 
  • 4:19 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – 1.00″ diameter hail reported in downtown Charleston.
  • 4:30 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – Flash flooding reported along Indian Creek Road in the Rambling Hills Road area of Pinch.
  • 4:40 p.m. – (KANAWHA COUNTY) – Numerous and large trees are down along Route 62 from Cross Lanes to Dunbar.
  • 4:55 p.m. – (FAYETTE COUNTY) – Trees are reported down in Powellton.
  • 5:05 p.m. – (NICHOLAS COUNTY) – 0.75″ diameter hail reported in Summersville.

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