Sept. 4, 2019 — Wow - it is hard to believe it is September already, and fall is right around the corner. Yesterday was the first day back to school for many of our kids. For those of you with students, I hope their first day was great! It is always great to see the first day pictures on Facebook. I was touched that a Parks employees sent me the one of his grandchildren yesterday, and look forward to seeing anyone else’s who wishes to share! These are indeed special times for families.
I am, however, mostly writing you tonight to update you on Hurricane Dorian and the potential impacts it might have on our community. Here is what we know right now:
Hampton could begin to feel the effects from Hurricane Dorian as soon as Thursday afternoon, with more serious impact overnight and through Friday. National Weather Service forecasters urge people not to focus on the track of the storm; Dorian is large, and its impacts will be felt across a wide area. The National Hurricane Center expects the storm’s path to continue northeast on Thursday; however, any change could shift the path closer to Hampton Roads, increasing the potential for damage. As a result, Governor Ralph Northam has declared a statewide emergency and I, in turn, declared a local state of emergency.
Currently, Hampton and the surrounding area are under both a tropical storm watch and a storm surge watch. Hampton could experience major flooding around Friday’s high tide of 4 p.m. Predictions are for a level of 7 feet, which is about the level of flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. High tides before and after Thursday afternoon are expected to be elevated as well: Friday at 3:24 a.m. and Saturday at 4:27 a.m.
In addition to tides, there are other factors that affect flooding, especially the amount of rainfall and the timing. Current rainfall projections for Hampton are in the 3- to 6-inch range. Winds are expected to be strongest during the day on Friday, potentially sustained around 35 mph with gusts to 50 mph.
You are likely wondering what this all means for you as city employees. We value employee safety and will make decisions to ensure your safety as the data suggests. At this point, there is no reason for us not to begin work as usual tomorrow (Thursday). We will make decisions about liberal leave or closure tomorrow once we see the turns the storm takes tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, please make sure you are taking precautions to prepare your home and family generally.