Unseasonably Steady Rain Inundates Parts Of Eastern Virginia
Steady rainfall inundated parts of Eastern Virginia Thursday, turning some neighborhoods into lakes and leaving roads impassable and drivers stranded.
Some areas in Hampton Roads — including Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach — experienced more than seven inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield.
Jeff Orrock, the chief meteorologist with NWS in Wakefield, said the wet weather in the region was unusual for November. It was the result of moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and Tropical Storm Eta, which is currently moving east of North Carolina's coast.
The rainfall started in Hampton Roads Wednesday night and continued into Thursday evening. By the time it ended, parts of Virginia Beach received nearly 8 inches of rain and areas in Hampton got 7.2 inches. Norfolk and Portsmouth experienced almost 7 inches.
“It’s just this continuous, moderate, steady rain,” Orrock said as the wet weather moved through the region. “We’ve just had so much of it at this point. There really is nowhere for the water to go.”
Heavy rainfall causes polluted runoff to flow into rivers and streams. The Virginia Department of Health says there are currently potential health risks to participating in recreational water activities.
Rain storms also sometimes back up sewage systems, causing raw sewage to overflow into nearby waterways.
Leila Rice, a spokeswoman for the Hampton Roads Sanitation District, said there haven’t been any wastewater overflows. She said HRSD has been monitoring flood pumps and has taken steps to prevent sewage discharges.
Still, flooding overwhelmed parts of the region Thursday.
The city of Virginia Beach released a long list of roads and public facilities that became inaccessible and impassable due to flooding.
State Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler posted a Facebook video Thursday afternoon showing inundated streets around South Independence Boulevard in Virginia Beach. Convirs-Fowler said multiple cars were stuck in the flooding. One driver pulled on to a median to avoid the floodwater. Others stopped in the middle of a roadway before turning around in search of other routes.
“Make sure you do not come down South Independence,” Convirs-Fowler said.
In Norfolk, water has completely covered streets and sidewalks in low-lying parts of the Ghent area. At least one car was abandoned Thursday morning in an inundated street.
Ghent resident Ken Sherwood tried to alleviate the flooding by unclogging stormwater drains. At one point, he stood knee-deep in floodwater clearing leaves and debris from the drains with a wooden rake.
“This particular area is kind of the low-lands of the Ghent area. So it floods quite regularly just like this,” Sherwood said.