While Virginia and the rest of the East Coast were spared the wrath of Joaquin, for many in low-lying areas of Gloucester and Mathews counties it still felt like they were suffering from the effects of a hurricane this past weekend.
Heavy rains, winds and high tides due to a complex series of weather systems impacted the region for days, resulting in excessive flooding and school cancellations.
Residents of coastal areas of Gloucester and Mathews either spent much of the weekend trapped inside their homes or attempting to make it out and return in time before the next high tide kept them from getting to their properties.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a State of Emergency last Wednesday evening as forecasts called for several days of excessively high tides, with Hurricane Joaquin lurking offshore. This allowed state agencies to take quick action in the interest of getting assistance to local governments, and, in turn, to Virginia residents as soon as possible.
Why it happened
Jeff Orrock, Meteorologist-in-Charge of the National Weather Service’s weather forecast office in Wakefield, said the prolonged periods of high tides were really due to multiple weather systems. “The first round of high tides last week starting on Thursday and then spiking on Friday was due to a strong high pressure system over the Great Lakes combined with a developing coastal storm across the Carolinas,” Orrock said. “The mid-Atlantic became squeezed in between these two systems and the northeast winds picked up to 40 to 45 miles per hour.”
He said these factors pushed the initial surge of water into the Chesapeake Bay and then into the rivers. Then, he said the winds remained out of the east and northeast for the next couple of days, keeping water levels high across the entire region.