Monday, May 7, 2018

Spring Weather Edition

Flood Awareness

Richmond has a rich history on the water and underwater. It wasn’t all that long ago that Hurricane Gaston (2004) inundated downtown Richmond with flooding up to 10ft in many areas, causing over $20 million in damages. This was even after the construction of the Richmond Flood Protection System (flood wall) which was built after the historic 1972 flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes. Even well-prepared communities can suffer from floods, it can happen almost anywhere. Living behind a flood wall or in an area not considered to be a flood plain does not mean you’re immune from risk.  As recently as February of 2018, flood waters rose so high that the RVA Flood Wall had to be closed to mitigate flood risk. Even the most prepared cities can fall victim to a flood disaster. It is your responsibility to know your risk, stay informed, and be prepared!

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What You Need to Know About Floods

  • Flooding can happen in many parts of all 50 states and during any time of the year
  • You should take extra steps to be prepared if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water or downstream from a dam or levee.
  • Flooding can occur in several ways
    • Rivers cannot contain excessive rain, or the rain cannot be fully absorbed into the ground
    • Waterways are blocked, or water containment systems fail
    • Strong storm systems cause storm surges pushing water inland
  • The speed and duration of flooding can vary, it can occur very quickly (flash floods) or it can occur slowly as rain falls over many days.
  • It is important to understand your flood risks. Talk to your insurance agent about flood insurance, as standard insurance policies do NOT cover flood damage.
  • Have an evacuation plan. If you live in a low-lying area that may be at risk for flooding you should know where you’ll go during an evacuation.
  • Have an emergency kit with three days of essential supplies, medication, and important documents
  • Know how to stay informed! There are several ways you can stay informed of weather emergencies in your area.
    • Download a weather app on your phone and check weather frequently to be aware of hazardous weather before it happens
    • Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio to receive weather alerts at home
    • Sign up for alerts from the National Weather Service and Richmond’s Code Red Emergency Alert System
    • Tune in to WRIR 97.3 FM during an emergency for official information

Know the difference between a flood watch and flood warning!
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Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
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Learn More about Flood Safety:


Tornado Awareness

Like floods, tornadoes can happen anywhere and during any time of the year. Tornadoes do NOT avoid cities, they don’t avoid anything in their path. While Virginia isn’t part of “Tornado Alley” they are still a frequent occurrence in our state. In 2004 there were 87 recorded tornadoes in Virginia, in 2017 there were 25. Being prepared for tornadoes is your responsibility, but we have some tips for you.

Tornado that recently hit Manila (RADYO INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/PHOTO GRAB FROM KAREN MADRIGAL)

Stay informed!
There are several ways you can find out about tornadoes in your area


Know the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning
Tornado with stormy blue-grey sky. Text reads: Tornado Warning: A tornado is happening or imminent. Take shelter immediately. vs. Tornado Watch: A tornado is possible. Stay tuned to local radio/TV for info. Know where you'll shelter if you have to. Footer includes FEMA logo and NWS logo. Photo credit: OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)


Know How to Stay Safe During a Tornado:
    • Identify safe rooms at home, at school, and at work so you know where to take shelter. These rooms should be on the lowest level of the building and as far away from windows and exterior walls as possible. Get down low and protect your head.
    • If you’re in a vehicle, buckle your seatbelt and keep your head down with your head covered. Do not try to seek shelter under a bridge.
    • If you’re not in a vehicle or building, seek shelter in a ditch. Lie down and cover your head.
    • Stay sheltered until the all-clear is given by your local officials


Learn More About Tornado Safety:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hurricane Season is not over yet!

Hurricane Sandy impacted the USA at the end of October 5 years ago. Please be aware that hurricane season doesn't end until November 30. To stay prepared (or begin preparing), you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
    • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
Tornado Facts
Quick facts you should know about tornadoes:
  • They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
  • They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
  • The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
  • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.
  • Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
  • Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
  • Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
  • Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 pm and 9 pm, but can occur at any time.
Know the Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a tornado hazard:
Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.



  • Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.
  • Put together a disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate
  • If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.
  • Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications.To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”


Hurricane watch = conditions possible within the next 48 hrs.
Steps to take:
Hurricane warning = conditions are expected within 36 hrs.
Steps to take:
  • Follow evacuation orders from local officials, if given.
  • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
  • Follow the hurricane timeline preparedness checklist, depending on when the storm is anticipated to hit and the impact that is projected for your location.
  • Know your hurricane risk. Talk to your local emergency management agency.
  • Make an emergency plan.
  • Build or restock your basic disaster supplies kit, including food and water, a flashlight, batteries, chargers, cash, and first aid supplies.
  • Consider buying flood insurance.
  • Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans. Know where to go and how to get there should you need to get to higher ground or to evacuate.
  • Stay tuned to local wireless emergency alerts, TV, or radio for weather updates, emergency instructions, or evacuation orders.


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.