Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hurricane Season Starts June 1st

Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30 every year.

While hurricanes can develop anytime, it is during the late summer months into the fall that hurricanes are most likely to effect the east coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) is forecasting 4 hurricanes this season which includes 1-2 storms classified as major. While this season is predicted to be below average it only takes one hurricane to devastate a community. It is important to remember hurricanes result in power outages from damaging winds and falling trees. For inland communities like Richmond, flooding is the biggest threat. Richmond has adopted strategies to lessen the impact of rising river water and localized flooding but it is equally important to understand the responsibilities of residents.

  Pay attention to the forecasts, hurricanes change strength and direction frequently resulting in often changing areas of impact. Remember that hurricanes don’t have to make a direct hit for communities to experience heavy rains and damaging winds. Understand the risk of flooding at your home and work including your daily commute and consider learning alternative routes.

  For more information on hurricanes go to NOAA’s Tropical Cyclone Guide: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hurricane/resources/TropicalCyclones11.pdf 

Watch this video from the National Hurricane Center on Inland Flooding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omJoz2u3rZI

Post Gaston 2004 Shockoe Bottom

Thursday, June 2, 2016

2016 Hurricane Season

It’s June 2nd and though the skies may be clear now and the seas calm, June 1st is the official start of hurricane season, the start of six months of keeping one eye on the weather at all times. Hurricane season extends from June 1st to November 30th each year. The likelihood of Richmond experiencing a hurricane grows to a peak in the late summer months of August and into September. Advances in technology allow meteorologists to predict with greater accuracy the projected path and severity of these massive storms. Hurricanes that make landfall and impact the Richmond metro area may not be as strong as when they hit the coast but can still bring heavy rains, flooding, strong winds, and even tornados. In addition to the potential flooding, this impact can still cause significant damage to include large numbers downed trees resulting in massive long term power outages and damage to homes and other property.

The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season is expected to be the most active since 2012. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) outlook called for a near normal season with 10-16 named storms, with four to eight hurricanes and one to four “major” ones with winds reaching 111 mph and up. The long term season averages are 12 named storms, with six hurricanes and three major ones. Learn more: http://www.noaa.gov/

Now is the time to:

  • • Review plans and procedures including response and individual agency emergency action plans and continuity of operations (COOP) plans
  • • Check critical equipment and supplies
  • • Backup critical data and address how to protect vital records
  • • What critical resources will you need to maintain a service level

Additionally, here are some tips to provide to family, friends and neighbors:

  • • Build an emergency kit for 72 hours with water, food, flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, copies of important papers, extra cash among other items
  • • Talk with members of your household about an evacuation plan and practice it before an emergency
  • • Be informed
  • • Learn more: http://www.readyvirginia.gov/

Remember it only takes one! So let’s ensure our departments as well as families are ready this hurricane season. The Central Virginia Emergency Management Alliance is hosting Survivor Day at multiple locations in Central Virginia to help citizens prepare. For more information and to sign up, please follow this link: http://www.survivorday.com/home.php

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hurricane Preparedness Day 6 - Get a Plan!

During a hurricane Richmond residents will likely be told to shelter in place rather than evacuate, unless you live in a low lying area near the James River.  Sheltering in place and avoid traveling during the storm is advised.  Having a plan to shelter in place and a family communication plan is critical to being prepared.  Often major storms can impact or overwhelm communications infrastructure, making it difficult to call and communicate to your loved ones locally.  Consider identifying a friend or relative out of town that family members can call and check in with to report their safety and well being.  Oftentimes it is easier to make a call out of the impacted area than it is to make calls locally.  Also consider having a plan to be self sufficient at home for 72 hours or 3 days without electricity. 

Watch this video from the National Hurricane Center on planning for hurricane season:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hurricane Preparedness Day 5 - After the Forecast

 Forecasts are what local emergency managers rely on, the accuracy and detail matter a great deal to the decisions made at the local level.  For hurricanes, advancements in technology allows forecasters to predict where the storm will make landfall and what intensity.   Once the storm begins approaching and the path is becoming more defined, watches and warnings will be issued for the impacted areas.  Local Emergency Management Offices begin monitoring the information soon after these storms form.  Coordination occurs with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and neighboring emergency management organizations.  Once it is apparent that the storm will impact the Richmond area, the City takes steps to mitigate potential issues as well as notify residents of what to expect and how to prepare for their families.  Widespread power outages are expected with large storms such as hurricanes, and preparedness is centered on what you would need to shelter in place for three days with no electricity.  With any storm it is important to follow local forecasts and be aware of the expected or potential impact.  Follow instructions given by local officials on how to protect yourself and your family.  

Watch this video from the National Hurricane Center on forecasting hurricanes:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hurricane Preparedness Day 4 - Inland Flooding

Flooding is the most common hazard for the City of Richmond, and can happen as the result of many types of weather events.  Overland flooding occurs when a waterway such as the James River overflows its banks.  Flash flooding occurs within a few minutes of heavy rainfall and often comes with little to no warning time.  Localized flooding can occur as a result from drainage of storm water and exists on a much smaller scale than flash and overland. 

All types of flooding should be taken seriously.  Never underestimate the potential damage or harm that a flood can cause.  A foot of water can float most vehicles so avoid driving through flooded roadways.  Also do not walk through flood waters as they often contain harmful chemicals or debris that could potentially cause injury.  

Check out this video from the National Hurricane Center on Inland Flooding:

Try these flood risk scenarios for more on your risk for experiencing a flood and visit www.ready.gov/floods for more information on how to prepare. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hurricane Preparedness Day 3 - Wind

Wind damage can result from a variety of significant weather events not just hurricanes.  Strong winds are a characteristic of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and nor’easters making wind damage a year round risk for the Richmond area.  During a storm that has the potential for strong winds it is important to remember how to stay safe:
  •  If  indoors, move away from windows and go to the your buildings lowest level
  •  If outdoors, seek shelter immediately
  • If in a mobile home, leave and take shelter in a sturdier building
  • If driving, pull of the road away from trees and utility poles which have the potential to fall

Also, don’t attempt to move downed power lines and report them to the power company.  Take precaution removing any downed trees from your property and seek professional assistance if able.  Check out this video from the National Hurricane Center to learn more about wind damage:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Hurricane Preparedness Day 2 - Storm Surge

Today’s theme for Hurricane Preparedness Week is Storm Surge.  While storm surge does not impact Richmond, it does impact the coastal and tidewater areas of the state where many people vacation during the summer months which coincides with hurricane season.  Check out this video from NOAA on Storm Surge: 

Even though Richmond does not face the potential harm of storm surge, flooding is an issue with the proximity to the James River.  The tidal portion of the James River begins in Richmond and Wednesday's preparedness theme will address inland flooding so make sure you check back to find out about more about this hazard.