Impact on the DC metro region
Rainfall amounts were staggering across Pennsylvania and also in much of the DC metro region. Chantilly, Virginia, for example, recorded 16 inches from Agnes and 13.65″ officially fell at Dulles Airport. Wind gusts peaked at around 50 mph at Dulles and National Airports (8.16” inches of rainfall recorded at DCA). The most tragic aspect of this event in the Washington D.C. area was the loss of sixteen people who were swept to their deaths in the swirling floodwaters. Most of these drownings involved motorists that were trapped in automobiles (credit Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang).
Hurricane Agnes finally exited Pennsylvania on June 25, 1972 with its sights set on western New York. By most accounts, the scope of the devastation puts Hurricane Agnes at the top of Pennsylvania’s worst natural disasters, even though it did not cause the most deaths. The two deadliest, both of which occurred on May 31, were the Johnstown Flood of 1889 (2200+ fatalities) and the Great Pennsylvania Tornado of 1985 (65 fatalities) [credit Washington Post/Capital Weather Gang].
Agnes left quite a legacy among those who suffered her wrath; consequently, the name was retired by NOAA and barred from future use. In fact, Hurricane Agnes was the first category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin to have its name retired and is today one of only five such storms with that distinction.
Meteorologist Paul Dorian
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