A stubborn cold front laden with moisture pushed its way through Central Virginia on Wednesday and into Thursday morning, dropping between one and four inches of rain across the area and pushing local streams and rivers near or over their flood stages.
The rising waters led to a Thursday morning swift water rescue of a Madison County woman and child whose vehicle had been swamped by flooding.
The front, fed with rain bands left over from former Hurricane Eta, which passed to the southeast, led to flood warnings across the region that continued into Thursday afternoon as rain runoff swelled waterways.
Schools throughout the area switched to online classes for the day and closed buildings because of the flooded roadways including the Albemarle County, Buckingham County, Greene County and Louisa County divisions. Thursday was supposed to be the first day of in-person classes for a second group of elementary students as part of the division’s hybrid learning model.
According to the National Weather Service and U.S. Geological Service, the James River in Scottsville was near 19 feet around noon on Thursday and pushing toward a predicted 7 p.m. crest of 21.5 feet.
That crest would put the river over its 20-foot flood stage, which would likely cause minor flooding around the town, according to the weather service.
The predicted crest would be the highest the river has reached since February 2019 when it hit 19.5 feet, weather service records show. It would the 24th tallest recorded crest for the river, just beating out 21.44 feet recorded May 23, 1942.
The highest river level recorded for the James River at Scottsville is a little over 34 feet on June 22, 1972 when the remnants of Hurricane Agnes blew through the region.
Thursday’s high water affected most low-lying areas in Albemarle County, Nelson County, the city of Charlottesville and into Fluvanna, Louisa and Orange counties.
In Madison County, sheriff’s deputies and rescue squad personnel ran to 2500 Jack Shop Road shortly after midnight to help pull a woman and her child out of the waters.
They were transported to a hospital as a precaution.
The Rivanna River went over its banks near Free Bridge on the Charlottesville-Albemarle County line, forcing the closure of some local streets and parks, including Darden Towe Park. The floods did not reach commercial or residential areas, however.
The Rivanna River rose to 19.7 feet near Palmyra around noon on Thursday, about two feet above flood stage.
The weather service predicts clearing skies and dry but cooler conditions through the weekend.
“Clearing should commence in earnest by midday Friday with more sunshine and seasonable temperatures [in the 60s] expected,” meteorologists said. “Low temperatures Friday night will drop into the 30s and 40s before rising into the 50s on Saturday.”