By Rick Steelhammer, Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It killed 23 people, pushed rivers to record and near-record heights and caused an estimated $1.1 billion in property loss, but the flash-flooding from torrential thunderstorms in West Virginia’s Greenbrier, Elk and Gauley river basins five years ago this month was not an anomaly.
Eight previous West Virginia floods triggered by similar summer thunderstorms each killed 20 or more people, with five of the floods equaling or surpassing the death toll from 2016, according to Steve Kite, professor emeritus and former chairman of West Virginia University’s Department of Geography and Geology.
Those floods, along with the 2016 event, all occurred during a seven-week period in early to mid-summer (June 22 to Aug. 9) with most of them involving high volumes of rain falling in a matter of a few hours, Kite said.
While the 2016 flood was tragic and locally exceptional, “it seems not to be unique,” Kite said…