Tropical storms have killed 13 people across Virginia this year, making this the deadliest hurricane season for the state since Hurricane Isabel claimed 32 lives in 2003.

On Thursday, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management increased Hurricane Florence’s statewide death toll to four, following the recovery of a woman’s body from the Roanoke River.

Authorities told The Roanoke Times that Betty “Susie” Fitzgerald Britt of Roanoke drowned when the remnants of Florence brought heavy rain to that area on Sept. 16.

The three other storm-related deaths in Virginia were caused by the Chesterfield County tornado, flash flooding in Louisa County and an ambulance accident in King George County.

Hurricane Florence was also responsible for killing 40 people in North Carolina and nine in South Carolina, for a total of 53 deaths in the United States.

Tropical Storm Michael killed six people across Virginia last week. Flooding in the Southside region claimed five victims, and Hanover County firefighter Lt. Brad Clark was struck while responding to a crash on Interstate 295.

The U.S. death toll from Hurricane Michael stood at 35 on Friday, with at least 25 deaths reported in Florida alone. The storm slammed the Florida Panhandle with winds up to 155 mph on Oct. 10, then blew across Virginia the following day.

The first storm of the 2018 season — Tropical Storm Alberto — killed eight people in the United States in late May, including three in Virginia.

Floodwaters swept away two people in Albemarle County and one in Madison County on May 30 after several inches of rain fell on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

That storm also tracked northward from the Gulf of Mexico to the Florida Panhandle, but its winds were much weaker than Michael’s.

Including the three tropical systems, violent weather has caused at least 15 fatalities in Virginia so far this year.

On March 2, two people were killed by falling trees when a nor’easter sent 60 mph wind gusts through the region.

Until this year, hurricane-related fatalities in Virginia had been trending lower since the active storm seasons of the early-to-mid 2000s.

Notably, flash flooding from Tropical Storm Gaston killed nine people in the Richmond region on Aug. 30, 2004.

A National Hurricane Center report on 2003’s Hurricane Isabel said 10 deaths in Virginia were caused directly by the storm’s falling trees and flooding, along with 22 deaths caused indirectly by accidents and other hazards following the storm.

Virginia’s deadliest weather disaster in modern times happened in August 1969 when a surprise deluge from the remnants of Hurricane Camille led to mudslides in Nelson County and major flooding on the James River. At least 153 people died in that storm, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Floods are the state’s leading storm-related cause of death, but even a distant or weakening hurricane can spin up tornadoes or send deadly swells and rip currents to the coastline.

In records going back to 1950, only three hurricanes spawned deadly tornadoes in Virginia: Florence in 2018, David in 1979 and Gracie in 1959.

Check for John Boyer’s videos and forecast updates. Contact him at


John Boyer is the first staff meteorologist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the RTD newsroom in November 2016. Boyer earned his degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

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