Coastal communities in Virginia are prone to flooding, particularly during hurricanes, nor’easters, and other coastal low-pressure systems. These weather systems affect public safety, personal and public property, and valuable infrastructure, such as transportation, water and sewer, and electric-supply networks.
Local emergency managers, utility operators, and the public are tasked with making difficult decisions regarding evacuations, road closures, and post-storm recovery efforts as a result of coastal flooding. In coastal Virginia these decisions often are made on the basis of anecdotal knowledge from past events or predictions based on data from monitoring sites located far away from the affected area that may not reflect local conditions.
Preventing flood hazards, such as hurricane-induced storm surge, from becoming human disasters requires an understanding of the relative risks that flooding poses to specific communities. The risk to life and property can be very high if decisions about evacuations and road closures are made too late or not at all.