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River up, but flood not as high as forecast around Fredericksburg

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

View stunning aerial views of the Rappahannock River around Fredericksburg.

In recent days, nearly 8.9 inches of rain fell west of Fredericksburg, including nearly five inches during afternoon storms on Monday.

The city got about 2.6 inches during the past five days.

The rain flooded parts of Culpeper, and the Rappahannock River swelled to crest early Tuesday at about 15.9 feet at Fredericksburg’s City Dock.

The National Weather Service had forecast the crest would be around 16.8 feet.

Still, River Road in southern Stafford County was flooded, along with some low-lying spots on the Fredericksburg side of the river.

It’s been awhile since the water has been that high.

During the second week of May in 2008, back-to-back storms dumped about five inches of rain on the area, and the river crested at 15 feet.

It was much higher on Sept. 20, 2003, in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, when the Rappahannock crested in the city at 19.4 feet, 1.4 feet above flood stage.

That was way below the surge following Hurricane Fran in September 1996, when the river crested at 26.9 feet. The flood reached several blocks of Sophia Street and inundated River Road in Falmouth.

That storm dumped 3 to 5 inches of rain on Fredericksburg, and up to 11 inches in counties to the west. It took two days for that wave of water to arrive here.

In June 1972, when the remnants of Hurricane Agnes dumped 6.5 inches here and up to 9 inches west of the city, the river crested at 39.1 feet—way above the visual gauges at City Dock.

That storm led to widespread flooding in the city and Falmouth.

The record was set on Oct. 16, 1942, with water flooding parts of Caroline, Charlotte and Hanover streets.

With frequent rains this spring, Fredericksburg—after months of lower-than-average rainfall—is closing the gap.

According to the University of Mary Washington weather station, the city has received 3.25 inches so far this month, and 17.94 inches for the year.

The normal amount for the year to date is 19.25 inches.

Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431


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