BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — 2020 came and went. But somewhere in between that, we had quite a bit of weather slip, slide and skid through the two Virginias. A lot happened, so we’ll just check out the highlights.
2020 had its ups and downs when it came to temperatures, some just with the changing of the seasons. But others saw weird and wacky weather patterns begin to set up.
Beckley didn’t have a year for the record books temperature-wise, but it did feature some fairly warm months. In fact, seven of the twelve months of the year were significantly above average, compared to only two months being significantly below average.
June, September and December didn’t really see a significant pull in either direction to truly qualify them as either above or below average. Minor year-to-year fluctuations of a few tenths of a degree off of the average can generally be labeled as insignificant.
Yearly Almanac (Temperatures-Beckley):
• Average Temperature (2020):53.9°F
• Highest Temperature: 90°F on Jul 19 and 21
• Coldest Temperature: 8°F on Dec 26
• Ranking: 9th Warmest Year
Bluefield, which is just a quick trip away from Beckley, painted a much different picture in 2020, falling nearly as below average (-1.9°F) as Beckley did above (2.0°F). Seven of the twelve months of the year were significantly below average, while only three months could be considered above average.
February and July, really only fluctuated by a few tenths of a degree, which really don’t show much out of the ordinary when you take the whole year into account.
Yearly Almanac (Temperatures-Bluefield):
• Average Temperature (2020): 52.9°F
• Highest Temperature: 87°F on Jul 21
• Coldest Temperature: 6°F on Dec 26
• Ranking: 29th Warmest
2020 was a very wet year, especially through the spring and summer. A plethora of tropical systems and their remnants either passed directly over us or grazed the region. Between those and our normal rounds of thunderstorms through severe season, the totals really added up.
In the Raleigh county seat, August topped the scales as the wettest month of the year, with nearly seven inches falling. Summer (June to August) was the wettest season, topping out with a three-month total of 16.46 inches, Spring (March to May) was a close second with 16.0 inches over those months. The year, as a whole, topped out at 51.64 inches, making this the 12th wettest year on record for Beckley.
Taking into account we had a very warm start to the year, it’s not surprising we fell so short of our average annual snowfall. January and February are typically the snowiest months of the year.
Yearly Almanac (Precipitation-Beckley):
• Total Precipitation (2020): 51.64-inches
• Wettest Day: 2.35″ on Aug 12
• Snowiest Day: 4.8″ on Jan 7
• Ranking: 12th Wettest
Bluefield shot for the stars this year, but fell short of being the wettest year on record for “nature’s air conditioned city”. Still, second place isn’t to shabby either, with 52.56 inches of precipitation falling. It was certainly an impressive year all around, and hopefully one that doesn’t repeat itself any time soon. So far, three of the top ten wettest years occurred since 2004 (#1: 2004, #2: 2020, #6: 2018).
Snowfall, much like in Beckley, was disappointing in Mercer County. Bluefield fell just more than 10 inches short of their normal January-to-December snowfall. So far, at least the winter of 2020-21 is off to a fast start and running near to average so far. A sign of things to come? Maybe, but that’s a different article.
Yearly Almanac (Precipitation-Bluefield):
• Total Precipitation (2020): 52.26-inches
• Wettest Day: 2.09-inches on Feb 6
• Snowiest Day: 5.5-inches on Dec 25
• Ranking: 2nd Wettest
Liam’s Top Five Weather Events of 2020
#5 Tropical Activity:
During 2020, we saw plenty of tropical activity in the Atlantic. A surprising amount of it made its way to the two Virginias. Rather than highlighting each one individually, I picked the all the tropical activity we saw this year as #5 on the list. A quick list of which storms and their remnants affected us is: Bertha, Isaias, Laura, Sally, Zeta, and Delta.
#4 Christmas Eve Snowstorm:
For many, this was the single snowiest day of 2020. A potent cold front changed rain to snow, when it drove arctic air into the area for the holidays. Snow continued well into Christmas Day, delivering the first official White Christmas in Beckley since 2013.
#3 Oak Hill: Flooding
On Jun. 14, a personal weather station in the town of Oak Hill measured 5.49 inches of rain falling in less than 3 hours from a training thunderstorm sitting over the area. It was an incredible event by any standards, especially in the volume of rain that fell so fast. Flooding was localized to Oak Hill, Minden and a few other surrounding towns, but damages to homes in the area was extensive.
#2 April 7-8 Severe Weather Outbreak:
Apr. 7-8 was arguably the biggest severe weather outbreak we had in 2020 for southern West Virginia. Hail of up to 1.25 inches was reported in Fayette County. Winds topped out at more than 55 miles per hour across multiple counties, as multiple severe thunderstorms rocked the region.
#1 February Floods:
On Feb. 6, heavy rains caused widespread flash flooding across southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. In less than 48 hours, more than four inches of rain fell in Tazewell County, with other areas topping out near three inches. Widespread flash flooding occurred as result when rivers and creeks crested their banks, closing many roads for more than 24 hours.