Weather Woes

Between The Bridges

This past weekend, as we slogged our way through the rain of what remained of Hurricane Gordon, we also experienced several periods of coastal flooding with spring tides coming off a new moon abetted by a continual northeast wind and accompanying high surf. Once again, I am happy to report that with its new bulkhead, storm and sewer infrastructure, and raised roadway, tidal street flooding on West 12th Road was insignificant. We did experience some tidal inundation stemming from tidal water breaching several properties as a result of damaged, or in some cases missing, canal bulkheads at the rear of the properties, but that water was quickly dissipated via the newly designed street and storm drainage system.

At one point, tidal street flooding was so commonplace that I started to think that our street would go under every time a monarch butterfly flapped its wings up in the wildlife refuge, around times of a full or new moon. In any event, it is indeed a pleasure not to have to run outside and move our cars off the block several times a month when our street transformed into West 12th Rover Road during a full or new moon, or because of a low-pressure system sitting off the coast. Of course, if anyone spots a large barn owl flapping its wings up in the Gateway preserve, that could be a horse of a different color.

That being said, I can safely say that nobody on any of the streets that have been raised thus far views the new bulkheads and street heights as a panacea of all coastal flooding as is evidenced by the close attention all of us have paid on the approach of Hurricane Florence. As I am writing this column, all computer forecast models appear to be coming into agreement that Florence will make landfall well south of us just around the time this paper is published this week, as the window for the storm to miss the U.S. coast and turn harmlessly back has basically closed.

If this storm track remains as expected, we will be spared the hurricane/tropical storm force winds and severe storm surges that our neighbors to the south will have to deal with, but it appears that Florence will continue intensifying up to a possible Category 4 storm prior to making landfall. In addition to the high winds and serious storm surge along coastal areas, another huge danger from Florence is more likely to come from inland flooding. Although Florence is clipping along at a steady pace right now through the Atlantic, it’s forecasted to hit the brakes once it moves farther inland. If Florence actually stalls and parks itself over inland areas of the south, it could unload up to 32 inches of rain onto parts of North Carolina and Virginia, which usually only see around 40 to 50 inches in a given year. Anyone remember the inland flooding problems wrought by Hurricane Irene back in 2011?

Thankfully, at the present time, it appears that the only significant impacts from Florence in our area will be high surf, strong rip currents, large offshore swells, beach erosion, and significant wind. Reason enough to be thankful as we keep our neighbors to the south in our thoughts and prayers.

Broad Channel, why would anyone want to live anywhere else?

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