Coastal flood warning in effect for Isle of Wight

Published 5:38 pm Friday, September 14, 2018

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Potential for flooding along Blackwater River has increased


The National Weather Service’s Wakefield station upgraded the coastal flood watch for Isle of Wight County to a coastal flood warning as of 6:24 a.m. on Thursday. The warning will remain in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday.

A coastal flood warning means that flooding is occurring or imminent. The NWS advises residents in the warned area to be alert for rising water and take appropriate action to protect life and property. Residents should be prepared for the possibility of road closures and flooding of properties. If travel is necessary, do not attempt to travel through water of unknown depth.

As for inland flooding, the NWS still lists Isle of Wight at the moderate risk level. Flooding in low-lying areas and ditch overflow will also likely be an issue, especially on back roads. Flooding due to rainfall could persist though the weekend.

The potential for flooding along the Blackwater River increased on Thursday morning. Due to the portential for higher rainfall amounts from Florence’s outer bands and the possibility that she may make her way north through central Virginia, the forecast models were projecting a worst-case maximum river level into the major flood stage (18.8+ feet) on Monday, Sept. 17. However, the most likely forecast level is around 8 feet, which is well below the minor flooding level through next Thursday, Sept. 20. The forecast information available at this time only projects through next Thursday.

Factoring in Florence’s increasing total size and the forecasted stall, the NWS has increased storm surge impacts slightly from this morning. NWS is forecasting greater than 1-foot storm surge along the Isle of Wight coast line, especially along the James River.

Storm surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. While the hurricane hasn’t strengthened in terms of peak winds, the inner-core and outer wind field have continued to expand, resulting in an increase in the storm’s total energy. Additionally, the longer Florence stalls along the North Carolina/South Carolina coast, the higher the actual storm surge may be, especially along the James River.

Storm surge zone A in Isle of Wight remains under the governor’s evacuation order. The county advises   residents to be aware of their storm surge risk and make preparations.