Epic rainfall from Hurricane Florence could burst dams in Virginia, warn state officials

Thursday, September 13, 2018
By Paul Martin

by: JD Heyes
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The closer Hurricane Florence gets to shore, the more dire the predictions are regarding the Category 4 storm’s potential to cause major, long-term damage to infrastructure in its path.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Florence was still several hundred miles off the coast of North and South Carolina, with forecasters saying she could make landfall in 24-36 hours. That’s not much time for officials who are scrambling to inspect the integrity of dams and other installations that could be overwhelmed by an expected rainfall of 20-45 inches, depending on who you believe.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Authorities in the U.S. Southeast are checking dams and urging their owners to lower water levels ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is expected to unleash torrential rains and test the thousands of dams in the region.

Florence is expected to dump up to 30 inches of rain and 40 inches in some areas, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Category 4 storm was aimed at the North Carolina coastline but is big enough to threaten a broader region. It is expected to meander over the coast, amplifying the precipitation threat.

There is a dam-safety conference this week in Seattle, the paper noted, but authorities from the Carolinas skipped it so they could conduct inspections on their own dams ahead of the storm. In neighboring Virginia, officials with the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation have identified some 100 dams they are concerned could be at risk, either because of “spotty inspection records” or because they are still being built.

“If we get 20 inches of rain in a relatively short period of time,” Russ Baxter, the department’s deputy director told the WSJ, “there could be a number of dams that will fail.”

His department is responsible for more than 3,000 dams.

The Rest…HERE

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