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Albemarle County Newsroom

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Storm Updates - 10/29/12, Regional Website Activated
10/29/2012

9:45 p.m. update:

Some in our area are experiencing power outages.  If your power goes out, contact your utility provider:

  • Dominion Virginia Power: 1-866-DOM-HELP (366-4357)
  • Central Virginia Electric Cooperative: 1-800-367-2832
  • Rappahannock Electric Cooperative: 1-800-552-3904
  • Appalachian Power: 1-800-956-4237

Downed power lines are dangerous.  Do not touch power lines that are on the ground.

To avoid injuries from falling power lines or flying debris, people are asked to remain inside as much as possible.  Many businesses and services are closed Tuesday.  Check that your destination is open before heading out and avoid unnecessary travel.

With power outages, many people will begin using gas-powered appliances and charcoal or gas grills for electricity and cooking. Carbon monoxide exposure from these sources can be deadly. The Virginia Department of Health recommends the following precautions to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Do not burn charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent or fireplace.
  • Never use a generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation.  Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide build-up in the home.  
  • Always locate the unit outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents and air-conditioning equipment that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Follow the instructions that come with your generator.  Position the unit outdoors and away from doors, windows, vents and air conditioning equipment that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. 

There is snowfall along ridge tops at 2000ft or higher, motorists who are driving in those areas should be alert to that possibility.

While there may be some flooding associated with the rainfall, the major anticipated impact to our area remains the wind threat – wind speeds are increasing in our region and gusts are expected through Tuesday.

Temperatures in our area will fall into the 40s tonight, with wind chill making it feel colder.  Be prepared for colder weather, wear layers and stay indoors.

6:00 p.m. update:

  • Hurricane Sandy is currently making landfall in New Jersey. 
  • The National Weather Service is predicting 1-3 inches of rain for Albemarle County and Charlottesville.
  • There is snowfall along ridge tops at 2000ft or higher (in counties including Albemarle, Rockingham and Augusta) this evening, so motorists who are driving to and from those areas should be alert to that possibility. 
  • While there may be some flooding associated with the rainfall, the major anticipated impact to our area is the wind threat – predictions are for sustained winds around 30 mph with 50 mph wind gusts overnight toward dawn and into early Tuesday morning. 
  • Along with the winds comes the potential for falling trees, flying debris and power outages.  Residents are encouraged to be aware of danger posed by falling branches and trees and to stay inside as much as possible during the high wind times mentioned above.  Residents are also encouraged to secure items around the outside of their homes and property before early afternoon when the winds are expected to pick up. 
  • If we begin seeing downed trees and power lines, resident are reminded to stay away from downed lines and to call the power company to report outages. 
  • The full imact of the storm remains to be seen.  People should exercise caution and stay prepared.

At 10:30 am, the Regional EOC participated in a conference call featuring updates from the National Weather Service and Virginia Department of Emergency Management:

  • Hurricane Sandy is still strengthening and is expected to continue strengthening and to make landfall late tonight or early morning in Delaware Bay.
  • Our area is located between the 1-3 inches of rain and 3-6 inches of rain gradients, at this point the National Weather Service is predicting 1-3 inches for Albemarle County and Charlottesville.
  • There is the potential for 3-5 inches of snow along ridge tops (including Rockingham County and Augusta County including Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg) this evening, so motorists who are driving to and from those areas should be alert to that possibility.
  • While there may be some flooding associated with the rainfall, the major anticipated impact to our area is the wind threat – predictions are for sustained winds of 30-55 mph with 60-70 mph wind gusts overnight toward dawn and into early Tuesday morning.
  • Along with the winds comes the potential for falling trees, flying debris and power outages.  Residents are encouraged to be aware of danger posed by falling branches and trees and to stay inside as much as possible during the high wind times mentioned above.  Residents are also encouraged to secure items around the outside of their homes and property before early afternoon when the winds are expected to pick up.
  • If we begin seeing downed trees and power lines, resident are reminded to stay away from downed lines and to call the power company to report outages.

10/29/12 9AM

Emergency officials from Albemarle County, Charlottesville and the University activated a regional Emergency Operations Center this morning at 8:00 am at the Emergency Communications Center on Ivy Drive.  Officials at the EOC are closely monitoring the storm’s progress and potential impacts on the community and have resources available to manage our community’s response.  All official regional public information regarding the Hurricane Sandy situation will be released from the EOC.

All regional public information is being posted to a joint website – www.communityemergency.org – which will be updated on a regular basis with the most accurate and up-to-date information available.  Also, the non-emergency information line – (434) 979-INFO – has been activated and is staffed to respond to general storm-related inquiries.

No decision has been made at this point about establishing an emergency shelter, but shelter personnel and resources are on alert and will be mobilized if that becomes necessary.

HURRICANE SANDY INFORMATION FROM VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
Monday, October 29, 2012, 7 a.m.
 
Impact to Virginia

  • No storm-related deaths or serious injuries reported.
  • No storm-related traffic fatalities reported.

Potential Impact to Virginia

Sandy is a large storm that will affect Virginia with sustained winds, rain, storm surge and coastal damage in the eastern regions; significant snowfall expected in the higher elevations of southwest Virginia.

Latest National Weather forecast:

  • Southside Hampton Roads: 2-3 inches of additional rain, sustained winds of 30-35 mph and gusts of 50-55 mph 
  • Eastern Shore: 4-6 inches of additional rain, sustained winds of 40-45 mph and gusts of 60-65 mph and higher
  • Northern Neck: 3-4 inches of additional rain, sustained winds of 40-50 mph and gusts of 60-70 mph
  • Middle Peninsula: 2-3 inches of additional rain, sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts of 50-60 mph
  • Peninsula: 2 inches of additional rain, sustained winds of 30-35 mph and gusts of 50-55
  • Interstate 95 corridor including Richmond: ½ inch to 3 inches of additional rain, sustained winds of 30-35 mph and gusts of 45-55 mph
  • Southwest Virginia: winter storm warnings for much of this region with snow accumulations and potential for blizzard conditions in far southwest Virginia due to high winds and blowing snow

Power Outages

Approximately 3,000 statewide.  Mainly concentrated in pockets along Eastern Shore, Norfolk, Hampton Roads, Middle Peninsula and southside (i.e. Chesapeake, Suffolk, etc.)  Another pocket of outages in Roanoke County.

Governor’s Actions

  • The governor issued a limited mandatory evacuation order for low-lying areas in coastal Virginia.  This order gives authority to local government officials to determine specific locations to be evacuated and times that evacuations will start, based on best information about the storm’s impact. 
  • The governor declared a state of emergency Friday, Oct. 26, at 9:50 a.m. to help quickly get supplies, equipment and staff to those who need it.

Traffic Information

  • DC Metro closed Monday. 
  • Amtrak Northeast Corridor Services – to include Virginia – are cancelled Monday. 
  • VDOT reports the following road closures: one primary road (numbered 0-599) and 19 secondaries (numbers 600 and above) are closed as of 7 a.m.
  • The tide gate to the Midtown Tunnel in Hampton Roads has been lowered, and the tunnel is now closed to motorists.  
  • The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel is open.  Crews are in place and are making preparations should the expected high tide require it to close.
  • Jamestown-Scotland Ferry resumed service at 3 a.m., and the Pocahontas will run until further notice.  The ferry departs the Surry dock on the hour and the Jamestown dock on the half hour. 
  • Crews in the western region of the state are standing by for snow removal.  The storm is expected to cause cold weather, producing heavy snow fall in the higher elevations of western Virginia.

For a full list of road closures and conditions, click http://www.511virginia.org/mobile/?menu_id=conditions

What to watch out for:

  • If a traffic signal is out, drivers are advised to treat the intersection as a four way stop. 
  • Never drive through water flowing across a road. It takes only six to 12 inches of water to float a small vehicle. 
  • Never drive around barricades. Remember, the road has been closed for your safety. 
  • Slow down when driving through standing water. Driving too fast through water could cause you to lose control and hydroplane. 
  • Avoid flood-prone areas, especially along creeks and other low-lying areas. Water in those areas can rise quickly and without warning during heavy rains. 
  • In the event of a flash flood warning for your area, seek high ground immediately. 
  • Watch for debris on the roadway. If you encounter a downed power line, do not try to move the line. Downed trees may contain power lines. Contact VDOT or Dominion Virginia Power.

Messages to motorists:

  • Limit travel during height of storm. 
  • Monitor local weather and traffic reports before getting into the car.
  • Before heading out the door, get the latest road conditions by calling 511, visit www.511virginia.org or download the mobile app from the 511 web site. 
  • Use 9-1-1 only in emergencies. Dial #77 on cell phone to report traffic crashes or traffic emergencies to State Police.
  • State law requires headlights to be on when windshield wipers are activated.
  • Motorists must use extreme caution on the road and never attempt to drive through flood waters. 
  • Remain alert to avoid fallen trees. 
  • Drive free of distractions and always buckle up.

What should residents be doing now?

  • Final emergency preparations should be completed now.    
  • Stay tuned to local TV and radio stations for instructions and information.  Those in eastern Virginia who live in low-lying areas should be ready to evacuate if told to do so by local officials.
  • 25 shelters have been opened for residents on the Eastern Shore, Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and Hampton Roads localities. The best source for local shelter information is local media and local government websites.  As of 6 a.m., Monday, October 29, to include: 
     
    Localities with Open Shelters
    Accomack County
    City of Chesapeake
    City of Colonial Heights
    City of Hampton
    King William County
    Lancaster County
    Mathews County
    New Kent County
    City of Newport News
    City of Norfolk
    Northampton County
    Northumberland County
    City of Portsmouth
    City of Richmond
    Surry County
    City of Virginia Beach
    York County/Poquoson

If power is out, use flashlights, not candles.

  • Remember – Carbon monoxide is a silent killer.  Do not bring generators into the house. Don’t use camp stoves and lanterns without ventilation.  Never use stoves for heating.  Any of these can cause deadly buildup of carbon monoxide. If using a space or kerosene heater, practice proper safety procedures.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as long as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

Numbers to Call for Information

  • 2-1-1 Virginia is serving as the public inquiry number for Virginia residents. 
  • 5-1-1 is to be used for the latest in road conditions. Only call 9-1-1 in a true emergency. 
  • #77 on a cell phone to report a traffic crash or traffic emergency
  • Residents should call their locality’s non-emergency number for updated storm-related and shelter information.  Only call 9-1-1 in a true emergency.

State and federal preparations

  • State offices in Richmond are closed Monday, October 29, 2012. 
  • Federal government in DC is closed Monday, October 29, 2012.
  • The Virginia Emergency Operations Center is coordinating the state’s response with increased staffing 24 hours a day.
  • Virginia State Police personnel have been pre-positioned on the Eastern Shore to assist localities with traffic and emergency response.  The Virginia State Police Search & Recovery dive teams are standing by on the Eastern Shore, Hampton, Richmond and Northern Virginia. State police are also preparing for response to snow-related traffic and emergencies in western and Southwest Virginia. 
  • Virginia National Guard personnel have been pre-positioned to the eastern shore and other potentially impacted areas.  Additional personnel are on state active duty. 
  • Chainsaw crews from the Virginia Department of Forestry are standing by with emergency response personnel to help with debris removal. 
  • Virginia Department of Transportation crews are ready to clear roads of debris and snow and ensure roads are safe for travel.  Crews will work in 12-hour shifts throughout the storm.
  • The Virginia Department of Health is coordinating with hospitals and long-term care facilities to ensure they are prepared for storm impacts. Regional Storm watch officers are tracking and communicating with waterworks across the state. 
  • Close coordination is under way between the VEOC and Virginia’s power and telecommunications providers to handle potential disruptions in services. 
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) incident management advance team is in the Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) to assist in coordinating response. 
  • Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Defense are in the VEOC to assist in coordinating response.

Resources

  • 211 – Call toll-free for information on many topics related to the storm. 
  • 511 - Call toll-free for the latest in road conditions and closures; or www.511virginia.org
  • http://vaemergency.gov – Go online or on your smart phone for statewide storm updates. 
  • @vdem – Twitter feed for storm updates from the VA Dept. of Emergency Management 
  • VAemergency – Facebook page for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management

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