Flooding on the Patuxent River at Laurel along Main Street (Dennis F. Gillen, U.S. Geological Survey)
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Forty years ago, Hurricane Agnes formed in the Caribbean Sea and landed over the Florida Panhandle, where she produced at least 28 tornadoes. Blamed for more than 120 deaths, Agnes is well known in our area for causing massive flooding.
In 1972, Agnes brought lots of rainfall and flooding to our region. According to the National Weather Service, Agnes "still stands today as the flood of record in much of the region."
NWS says that the week before Agnes some areas of Virginia and Maryland received 4 to 6 inches of rain. The wet ground from that rainfall made conditions worse once Agnes arrived (as a tropical storm) with heavy downpours. The area saw flash flooding and 10 inches or more of rain fell over Madison, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Fauquier, Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties in Virginia and much of central Maryland, according to NWS. Nationwide, more than 500 bridges were washed out or closed.
Agnes became the costliest hurricane in the nation's history at the time, with $3.47 billion in damage, according to NWS. Most of the damage happened in Pennsylvania, which was declared a disaster area. Fifty deaths occurred in the state as well.