When Hurricane Season begins on June 1 each year, Hampton Roads residents start to turn their attention toward the weather in the Atlantic Ocean where tropical systems are born. Dozens of storms have impacted Hampton Roads over the years and the region is always a potential target. This month’s map depicts the paths of hurricanes and tropical storms which have passed through or near Hampton Roads between 1851 and 2020.
The paths on the map represent the center of each storm through its entire lifecycle, with each individual segment showing the wind speed in that location. Since storm data was first recorded for the region, 115 storms have either passed directly through or within 50 miles of Hampton Roads. The center of a storm does not need to pass directly over an area in order to have devastating effects. Just 17 of these historic storms were still hurricanes when they passed by or through Hampton Roads. Named hurricanes include Barbara (1953), Charley (1986), Connie (1955), Donna (1960), Floyd (1999), Gloria (1985), Hazel (1954), Ione (1955), Irene (2011), and Isabel (2003).
There are two ways to explore the map: view storms by category and view storms by year. The category pane allows you to turn on and off the paths based on the category of the storm. The time slider tool lets you view storm paths based on a chosen range of years. The pop-up information screen on the map explains how to use the tools to filter and view information about the storms.
This map reminds us that tropical storms pose a continuing threat to the Hampton Roads region. As we enter the 2021 Hurricane Season, it is important for citizens to ensure they are prepared. While there are general hurricane preparedness recommendations such as making a plan, maintaining supplies, and staying informed, it is recommended that each person consider their specific circumstances and needs in the event of hurricane. FEMA’s www.ready.gov website is an excellent place to start your preparedness journey. Also, check in with your local emergency management website. Many jurisdictions of Hampton Roads provide information specific to their locality and offer alert services to relay emergency information.
While you are online, check out Virginia’s www.knowyourzoneva.org. The state introduced “Know Your Zone” to simplify evacuation processes when it becomes necessary. Zones are designated A through D. Zones provide residents with clarity on whether they should evacuate in an emergency or shelter at home, based on their physical street address and the nature of the emergency event. When a serious storm is expected to threaten or impact Virginia’s coastal regions, state and local emergency agencies will work with local news media outlets, as well as social media channels, that will then broadcast and publish evacuation directives to the public.
When considering hurricane preparedness, it’s not just the wind with which Hampton Roads citizens must contend. Hurricanes often bring tremendous flooding to the region. One inch of flooding to a home can cost over $25,000 in damage, and most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage. A common misconception is that homes located outside of high-risk flood areas are safe from flooding. The fact is, anywhere it rains, it can flood. Visit www.getfloodfluent.org for more information on flooding and start the process of obtaining flood insurance.