On Virginia Water Radio for 10-5-15: Forks in the Water “Roads”

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode, for the week of October 5, 2015, is Taking the Forks in Waterways “Roads,” with Appreciation to Yogi Berra.  The episode explores the waterway wisdom in one of the most famous “Yogi-isms.”  The 3 min./51 sec. episode is available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2015/10/episode-284-10-2-15-taking-forks-in.html.

Covered Bridge North Fork Shenandoah River Meems Bottom Oct13 2012

Meems Bottom covered bridge over the North Fork Shenandoah River in October 2012.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two! 

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending September 30, 2015

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending September 30, 2015. The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing precipitation and stream-flow information and images. For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the News Grouper posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Monthly+Water+Status. For more information on current and historical surface-water and groundwater conditions in Virginia, please see the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Virginia Science Center’s Web site, http://va.water.usgs.gov/.


The following maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation for the given location at this time of year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending September 30, 2015. The maps were accessed on 10/1/15 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southeast Regional Climate Center, located at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; online at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps. As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).
precip Sep30precipperc Sep30

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, http://water.weather.gov/precip/, provides maps showing precipitation nationwide or by state for specific days, months, or years. The site also has the capability to show county boundaries, and other map layers available include river flood forecasts and current flood/severe weather warnings. Please that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.

Stream Flow

Average Virginia stream flow over the seven-day period ending September 30, 2015, is indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/classic.php?m=pa07d&r=va&w=mv01d%2Cmap on 10/1/15. The map’s color-coded dots compare the previous week’s average stream flows to the normal flow levels for that week over the historical record for each gaging station. The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS are as shown in the chart following the map.

Streams Sep30KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

Flood Safety Information – as of September 2015

The last week of September 2015 brought to parts of Virginia heavy rainfall (record amounts in some places), river flooding, flash flooding on smaller streams, road closures, emergency rescues, and property damage (such as the destruction of an 80-year-old Bob White covered bridge over the Smith River in Patrick County). [Sources: Commonwealth Responding to Flooding, Preparing for More Extreme Weather, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 9/30/15; Rescues but no injuries as rain brings floods to Roanoke region, Roanoke Times, 9/30/15.]

As of September 30, more heavy rain was being forecast for much of Virginia, and Hurricane Joaquin had the potential to affect the Commonwealth by the first weekend in October.  [Source: National Hurricane Center, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.]

The exact impacts of these particular weather systems are uncertain, but there’s no doubt that the future always holds more flooding and flash flooding, at some time. In fact, flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States.

So here are the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s suggestions for what to do before, during, and after a flood, from the Ready Virginia Web site at http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/floods. …Below the list are links to other sources of information on preparing for, or responding to, flooding.

Ready Virginia – Floods

Flooding is the nation’s most common natural disaster, but not all floods are alike. Some can develop slowly during an extended period of rain, or in a warming trend following a heavy snow. Others, such as flash floods, can occur quickly, even without any visible signs of rain. Be prepared for flooding no matter where you live, but particularly if you are in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding.

Prepare for Flooding

  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
  • Consider installing “check valves” to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Unplug electrical appliances, moving them to higher levels, if possible. However, do not touch an electric appliance if you are wet or standing in water.
  • If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.
  • Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage.
  • If time allows, bring in outside furniture and move your valuables to higher places in your home.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after flood waters recede, roads could be weakened and could collapse. Buildings might be unstable, and drinking water might be contaminated. Use common sense and exercise caution.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a flood hazard.
    • Flood Watch or Flash Flood Watch: there is an increased possibility of flooding or a flash flood in your area.
    • Flood Warning: flooding is occurring or will likely occur very soon. If you are advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
    • Flash Flood Warning: flash flooding is occurring. Seek higher ground immediately; do not wait for instructions.
  • Use common sense and available information. If water is rising quickly or you see a moving wall of mud or debris, immediately move to higher ground.
  • Do not walk through moving water, if possible. Look for areas where the water is not moving. What might seem like a small amount of moving water can easily knock you down.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If your vehicle becomes surrounded by rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground, if possible.
  • Flood water might cut off access to roads. Be prepared to stay where you are until floodwaters recede.

Know the Road Conditions Before You Leave

  • Know the road conditions before you hit the highways. Visithttp://www.511virginia.org  or dial 511 from any phone for real-time traffic information and road condition reports.
  • Or visit http://www.virginiadot.org   for the latest road reports or listing of closed roads during a major flooding event.

Stay Informed

  • Listen to weather-alert radios to stay informed of flood watches and warnings.
  • Also monitor commercial radio, television and the Internet.
  • Keep in mind that after a flood, it could be hours, or even days, before emergency personnel are able to reach you.

You don’t have to live in a high risk area to be at risk for floods. About 25 percent of flood claims occur outside of a special flood hazard area, yet only 4.3 percent of Virginia households in low- to moderate-risk areas are covered with flood insurance protection.

Other Sources of Information on Flooding

American Red Cross, “Flood Safety,” online at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood; or contact your local Red Cross chapter.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “Floods,” online at http://www.ready.gov/floods.

National Flood Insurance Program, online at https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/, or phone toll-free at (888) 379-9531.

National Weather Service, “Flooding Resources,” online at http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/.

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Sep. 30–Oct. 13, 2015

For more information, click on underlined meeting dates. Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other, non-governmental, events, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Quick Guide to Virginia Water-related Events.


9/30/15, 10 a.m.: Department of Health’s Waterworks Advisory Committee. At Sydnor Hydro, 2111 Magnolia Street in Richmond.

10/1/15, 10 a.m.: State Water Control Board. At the General Assembly Building, House Room C, 9th & Broad Streets in Richmond.

10/3/15, 11 a.m.: Cave Board. At Town Hall in Grottoes (Rockingham County).

10/7/15, 10 a.m.: Offshore Wind Development Authority. At the Patrick Henry Building, East Reading Room, 1111 East Broad Street in Richmond.

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For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?151+oth+MTG. Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

None during this period.

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For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods. A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

10/7/15, 10 a.m., on the TMDL study of bacterial impairments in the lower Chickahominy River and several tributaries (Barrows Creek, Beaverdam Creek, Diascund Creek, Gordon Creek, and Mill Creek), located in the James River basin in Charles City, James City, and New Kent counties. At the Charles City County Social Center, 8320 Ruthville Road in Providence Forge.

*          *          *

(topics listed alphabetically)

Biosolids (Treated Sewage Sludge) Land-application Permit Requests
10/6/15, 6 p.m.: On the permit application by Nutri-Blend, Inc., of Richmond, to land-apply biosolids in Caroline County. At Town Hall, 117 Butler Street in Bowling Green.

10/2/15, 9 a.m.: Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee/Work Group #2A, on Alternative Management Structures; 10/2/15, 1 p.m.: Work Group #2B on Trading; and 10/5/15, 1 p.m.: Work Group #1 on Alternative Sources of Supply. All at the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen. The 2015 Virginia General Assembly passed HB 1924 and SB 1341, companion bills that established this Advisory Committee to assist the State Water Commission and the DEQ in developing, revising, and implementing a management strategy for groundwater in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area. The bills state that the Advisory Committee is to examine the following:
(i) options for developing long-term alternative water sources, including water reclamation and reuse, ground water recharge, desalination, and surface water options, including creation of storage reservoirs;
(ii) the interaction between the Department of Environmental Quality’s ground water management programs and local and regional water supply plans within the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area for purposes of determining water demand and possible solutions for meeting that demand;
(iii) potential funding options both for study and for implementation of management options;
(iv) alternative management structures, such as a water resource trading program, formation of a long-term ground water management committee, and formation of a commission;
(v) additional data needed to more fully assess aquifer health and sustainable ground water management strategies;
(vi) potential future ground water permitting criteria; and
(vii) other policies and procedures that the director of the [DEQ] determines may enhance the effectiveness of ground water management in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.” The Committee is to provide its report by August 2017. More information about the Advisory Committee is available online at http://deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity.aspx; more information about groundwater management areas in Virginia is available online at http://www.deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/GroundwaterPermitting.aspx.

Energy – Fossil Fuels
9/30/15, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) informal public listening session on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan to cut carbon emissions (greenhouse gases) from existing power plants that generate electricity from fossil fuels. At the Board of Supervisors Board Room, Henrico County Government Center, 4301 East Parham Road in Henrico. This is the fourth of six sessions; the other remaining sessions—all 5 p.m.-8 p.m.—are as follows:

10/1/15, Mountain Empire Community College, Phillips-Taylor Hall, 3441 Mountain Empire Road in Big Stone Ga (Wise County);

10/6/15, Tidewater Community College, Building A (Room A101), 120 Campus Drive in Portsmouth.

Sessions were also held on Sept. 16 in Harrisonburg, Sept. 22 in Roanoke, and Sept. 28 in Lorton.

According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for these meetings, “[the] DEQ is gathering general input from the public to help inform the Commonwealth’s review and implementation of EPA’s final rules for existing power plants (see EPA’s website at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards). In addition to receiving general input from the public, the Commonwealth is also interested in identifying and collecting input from vulnerable and overburdened communities. These communities include low-income communities, communities of color, areas where people are most vulnerable to climate change, and communities where economies may be affected by changes in the utility power and related sectors.” The final version of the Clean Power Plan regulation was announced by the EPA on August 3, 2015. EPA’s Web site on the Clean Power Plan and other carbon-emission standards is http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards; Virginia’s Web site is http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/GreenhouseGasPlan.aspx.

Fort Monroe
10/8/15, 1 p.m.: Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees Finance Committee. At Building 83, 20 Ingalls Road in Fort Monroe. In 2011, the Virginia General Assembly (Senate Bill 1400) established the Fort Monroe Authority to manage the historic areas of Fort Monroe and Old Point Comfort—at the confluence of Hampton Roads with the Chesapeake Bay—after the federal government closed its military facilities there. Fort Monroe had been a U.S. military base since 1836. In 2011, the area was designated as Fort Monroe National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/fomr/index.htm). More information about Fort Monroe and the Authority is available online at http://www.fmauthority.com/.

Infrastructure Construction Funding—Water Supply
10/8/15, 10 a.m.: Virginia Department of Health (VDH) public-comment meeting on Fiscal Year 2016 Intended Use Plan for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund Program. At the VDH’s East Central Satellite Office, 300 Turner Road in Richmond. For details on drinking water funding in Virginia, visit the VDH Web site at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/odw/financial/dwfundingprogramdetails.htm.

Mining and Mined Land Reclamation
10/7/15, 9:00 a.m.: Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) informal hearing to review the issuance of Notice of Violation DLH0010038 to Ambrose Branch Coal Company. At the mine site, 4.5 miles south of Pound in Cavenger Hollow in Wise County, in the Pound River/Russell Fork/Big Sandy River basin.

10/5/15, 9 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Stormwater Stakeholder Advisory Group/Enforcement Workgroup.  At the DEQ Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road
in Glen Allen (Henrico County). According to the Regulatory Town Hall notice about this meeting, this group was “formed by the Department of Environmental Quality, at the request of the chairs of the Senate and House natural resources committees, to consider ways to streamline and clarify the Stormwater Management Act, Erosion and Sediment Control Law, and Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, while continuing to ensure the protection of the Commonwealth’s water quality. The Group [includes] representatives of local government, agriculture, the development and engineering communities, environmental organizations, and other necessary participants.”   The DEQ’s Web page for the Virginia Stormwater Management Program is http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/StormwaterManagement.aspx.

Large Solar-energy Facility Proposed for Accomack County Granted Final State Permit in September 2015

On September 28, 2015, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the Commonwealth has approved the final permit needed for construction by Community Energy, Inc., of an 80-megawatt solar facility in Accomack County.  The power generated will be sold to Amazon Web Services; Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, Wash., operates several Web services facilities worldwide, including one in Fairfax County, Va.

The Accomack County solar-power facility, to be called Amazon Solar Farm US East, will cover about 900 acres and include an estimated 250,000 solar panels, making it the second-largest solar facility on the U.S. East Coast. The Governor’s Office’s news release on the project stated that the facility will “more than quadruple the amount of solar energy currently installed in the Commonwealth.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces Permit for 80 Megawatt Solar Facility in Accomack County; Virginia will be home to the largest solar facility in the Mid-Atlantic and the second largest solar facility on the East Coast, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 9/28/15.
Final permit issued for Oak Hall solar plant, Delmarva Now, 9/28/15.
Amazon moving forward on Accomack solar farm, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/28/15.
Amazon Web Services to expand in Fairfax County, add 500 IT-focused jobs, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority News Release, 5/22/13.

Heavy Rainfall and Flash Flooding in Late September and Early October 2015 — Information Sources

On September 29, 2015, a tropical low-pressure system was bringing heavy rainfall to much of the southeastern United States, including Virginia.  As of October 1, more heavy rain was predicted for the coming days, and Hurricane Joaquin had the potential to affect Virginia.  Below are some information sources for these weather developments and their impacts.

Infrared satellite photo east coast Sep29 2015

Infrared photo of rainfall over eastern United States, as of 10:45 a.m. (1445 Z or Greenwich Mean Time) on Sept. 29, 2015. The large red area in the low right is Tropical Storm Joaquin, which (as of 9/29/15), was predicted to track north, possibly affecting the Virginia coastline the first weekend in October, according to the National Hurricane Center (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/). Photo from that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), accessed at http://www.goes.noaa.gov/ECIR4.html, 9/29/15.


Hurricane Joaquin centered over the Bahamas on October 1, 2015, 10:15 a.m. EDT (1415 Z, or Greenwich Mean Time). Photo taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Web site, http://www.goes.noaa.gov/browsh.html, on 10/1/15.

Information Sources

Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), online at http://www.vaemergency.gov/.

National Hurricane Center, online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

Virginia Governor’s Office News Releases: Commonwealth Responding to Flooding, Preparing for More Extreme Weather, 9/30/15; and Governor McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency as Commonwealth Responds to Flooding and Prepares for More Dangerous Weather, 10/1/15.

NWS Forecast Office’s serving parts of Virginia:
*Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office (in Sterling, Va.), online at http://www.weather.gov/lwx/.
*Blacksburg Forecast Office, http://www.weather.gov/rnk/.
*Charleston, W. Va., online http://www.weather.gov/rlx/.
*Morristown, Tenn., Forecast Office (covering far southwestern Virginia), online at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mrx/.
*Wakefield, Va., Forecast Office, online at http://www.weather.gov/akq/.

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHaS) Daily Precipitation Map for Virginia, online at http://www.cocorahs.org/Maps/ViewMap.aspx?state=usa.

NWS Advanced Hydrological Prediction Center River Observations (map showing status of river gages relative to flood stage), online at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/.  Below is a sample of the kind of graph the site has for each river/stream gaging station, showing current and predicted flows relative to flood stage.

James River (VA) at Scottsville

NWS Storm Prediction Center Severe Weather Event Summaries” online at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/exper/reports/.

U.S. Geological Survey Daily Streamflow Conditions for Virginia, online at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/rt.

Kevin Myatt, Heavier rain expected mid-afternoon to early Saturday [Oct. 3, 2015]; flooding likely, Roanoke Times, 10/2/15.


The Weather Channel, “Flooding State-by-state,” 9/29/15, online at http://www.weather.com/safety/floods/news/flooding-impacts-state-by-state.

06 1230 pmStroubles VT bridge at base flow Sep30 2015 930 amA branch of Stroubles Creek on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg at high water at 12:30 p.m. (upper photo) on September 29, 2015, and back to normal flow at 9 a.m. on September 30 (lower photo).   The National Weather Service reported that Blacksburg received a record single-day rainfall of 4.39 inches on September 29 (see http://w2.weather.gov/climate/getclimate.php?wfo=rnk).

On Virginia Water Radio for 9-28-15: Water Measurements, Music, and Sonification

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode, for the week of September 28, 2015, is “Turning Water to Music through Sonification.”  The episode explores how music is being used create new ways to perceive and interpret water data gathered at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire.  The 4 min./8 sec. episode is available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2015/09/turning-water-to-music-through.html.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!