Here are brief snapshots of various effects of Hurricane Sandy on Virginia. Latest update 11/9/12; please check back later for additions.
1) On October 30, Va. Governor Robert McDonnell said the state so far had experience “minimal” damage from the storm, but potential remained for problems from snow in western counties and river flooding. Governor: ‘Minimal’ damage from Sandy but threat from snow, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/30/12.
2) On October 29, the Virginia Department of Health closed Virginia’s part of the Chesapeake Bay to shellfishing because of the threat of contamination from floodwaters. On October 31, the VDH announced that on November 1 it would reopen parts of the lower Rappahannock River, the lower York River, and Mobjack Bay, but that Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay and certain waters on the west side of the Eastern Shore will remain closed for now. Virginia portions of the Chesapeake Bay closed to shellfish harvesting due to flooding, rain, Associated Press, as published in Washington Post, 10/29/12; and Some Va. waters to be opened to shellfish harvesting, Virginian-Pilot, 10/31/2012.
3) A power failure on October 29 at the Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant in Howard County, Maryland, led to the release of about two million gallons per hour of untreated sewage over about a 15-hour period on October 29-30. The Little Patuxent is a tributary of the Patuxent River, which in turn enters the Chesapeake Bay just north of the Potomac River’s confluence with the Bay. Power was restored by October 30. Sources: Power restored to Maryland water treatment plant, WTOP (Washington D.C.), 10/31/12; and Sewage spilled into waterways from Virginia to New England, United Press International, 10/30/12.
4) According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay was “lashed” and “ravaged” by the storm, but almost all of its approximately 500 residents sheltered in place during the storm, which flooded streets and homes. Some residents said the effects were as great as those of Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Meanwhile, during an October 31 visit by Governor McDonnell to view Hurricane Sandy damage on Tangier, island residents pressed their case for state and federal assistance in constructing a series of breakwaters on the island’s eastern (Atlantic) side. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a project, but no funding has been available so far. A rock jetty was built on the western side of Tangier some 20 years ago. Sources: On Tangier Island, riding out Hurricane Sandy, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/30/12; and In the wake of Sandy, Tangier makes its case for help, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/01/12.
5) The October 30, 2012, U.S. Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu, released 11/1/12) reported the following: “In its wake, [Hurricane Sandy] dumped up to over eight inches of rain in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. The highest total, 9.57 inches as of Tuesday morning, fell at the Oceana Nas/Soucek airport in Virginia…. [Across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region],with the exception of areas of central Virginia and Upstate New York, the remnant of Hurricane Sandy erased all moderate drought and abnormal dryness in the region.”
6) On October 31, the U.S. Geological Survey projected that peak flows in Chesapeake Bay tributaries from Hurricane Sandy’s rainfall would be significantly lower than the peaks seen after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in August-September 2011. The Susquehanna River’s peak flow was expected to be 155,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on November 1, compared to the peak flow after Irene/Lee of over 775,000 cfs. In the Potomac River, the peak flow was expected to be 140,000 cfs on October 31, compared to the all-time record (1936) of 484,000 cfs. Meanwhile, scientists at the USGS and at state natural resource agencies are monitoring for increased levels of nutrients, sediment, bacteria, and pesticides from the post-Sandy high flows. Sources: River Flow into Chesapeake Bay Following Hurricane Sandy Lower than Expected, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 10/31/12; and USGS Sampling Water for Nutrients, Sediment, and Pesticides in Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 11/1/12.
6) As of November 2, some 1,600 Virginia electrical workers had been sent by Dominion Virginia Power, Appalachian Power, and five electrical cooperatives to help with repairs of Hurricane Sandy damage in New York and New Jersey. Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the City of Alexandria have sent two emergency-management officials each to New York for a two-week assignment at the New York State Emergency Operations Center. Source: Governor Bob McDonnell Thanks Virginia Utilities and Emergency Crews as They Assist NY and NJ Storm Recovery, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 11/2/12.
7) In Suffolk during the first week after Hurricane Sandy, a sewage pipe believed to have been broken during the hurricane spilled about 1,000 gallons per minute of untreated wastewater into Shingle Creek, a Nansemond River tributary (in turn, the Nansemond River flows into Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay). On Thursday, November 8, HRSD completed a by-pass of the broken section, which stopped the spill and will allow repair of the break. HRSD estimated on that day that 18.3 million gallons of sewage were spilled during the leak but asserted that there had been no impacts on drinking water. Broken pipe still spilling sewage into Suffolk creek, Virginian Pilot, 11/6/12; Suffolk sewage spill dumps 9.3 million gallons in creek, Virginian Pilot, 11/2/12; and Workers stop massive sewage spill into Suffolk creek, Virginian-Pilot, 11/9/12.