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Topper's Blog: Hurricane Isabel, Ten years since Isabel

10:03 AM, Sep 18, 2013   |    comments
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Remembering Isabel, 2003

The first category 5 hurricane to form in the Atlantic Ocean since Mitch in 1998, Isabel weakened to a category 2 before making landfall on this date ten years ago.  Isabel came ashore near Cape Lookout, North Carolina as a category two storm with sustained winds of around 100 mph.  Isabel produced a storm surge of seven to ten feet in North Carolina. The storm then raced northwestward passing just west of Richmond and just west of Winchester. Richmond recorded a seventy three mph wind gust while a fifty eight mph wind gust was recorded at National. The Bay Bridge was closed to traffic for a few hours due to the high winds.

Two thirds of all of Pepco's customers were without power. At the height of the storm 1.4 million customers were without electricity. We had a lot of rain that year, including the sixth wettest May with over seven inches. Consequently, many trees were uprooted due to the high winds and soggy soil with the two to ten inches that accompanied Isabel.


Isabel brought the worst tidal flooding in the Potomac and the Bay since Hazel in 1954. In fact some areas on the Bay had even worse flooding than the flooding brought on by Hazel. Hazel is still responsible for the highest wind gust recorded at National airport. When Hazel passed to the west of us it generated a wind gust of ninety eight mph. This storm tracked west of DC but just east of Winchester. 2003 year was one heck of a year with the President's Day Blizzard in February, Isabel and then the earthquake in early December.

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