To Hampton Roads
A diverse collection of 11 cities and six counties, Hampton Roads lies in the middle of the Eastern Seaboard, and with a population of 1.7 million, it is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. It is also home to the world’s greatest natural deep-water harbor.
Hampton Roads has 11,684 miles of shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay and multiple rivers, so residents enjoy a full range of seaside and aquatic activities. Walk the cobblestone streets of colonial-era cities, enjoy historic sites such as Jamestown, Yorktown or Williamsburg, or tour the Cape Henry lighthouse — the oldest federally funded lighthouse in the United States (1782).
Hampton Roads also has plenty of modern-day attractions, including museums, a zoo and an amusement park. Annual festivals and events, popular restaurants and shopping destinations will keep residents entertained in this rich and vibrant region.
Hampton Roads is where English settlers first landed in America in 1607, at what is now known as Virginia Beach. They arrived on three ships — the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery — under the direction of Capt. Christopher Newport. The newcomers continued up the James River to Jamestown Island and established the first English colony there. Hampton Roads’ many waterways proved to be of great use for both commerce and strategic military control of the new settlement.
The region was the site of important battles and events during the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and later, the Civil War. The Battle of Hampton Roads during the War Between the States is considered one of that conflict’s most important naval engagements. Part of a Confederate effort to break the Union blockade, the clash was the first between ironclad warships: the USS Monitor (Union) and the CSS Virginia (Confederate). While their joust ended in a draw (neither ship did much harm to the other), the duel received worldwide attention. Naval powers worldwide stopped building wood-hulled ships, forever changing the standards for warships and shipbuilding in general.
And it was here, with the Confederacy on the brink of collapse that President Abraham Lincoln met with senior Confederate officials at the Hampton Roads Conference in 1865. The four-hour conference was an attempt to negotiate for peace as Lincoln sought the states’ voluntary return to the Union. The Confederates continued to demand complete independence, however, and the conference ended in failure.
Today, the area’s 400 years of American history draws visitors from around the world. It is home to nearly 50 historical sites, including Fort Monroe, Colonial Williamsburg and the Portsmouth Naval Museum. Hampton Roads continues to make history with its naval presence and ships such as the USS Wisconsin, launched in World War II. After serving in the Persian Gulf in Operation Desert Storm, the ship was decommissioned and is now docked at the National Maritime Center-Nauticus in Norfolk, Virginia.
Weather and Climate
Hampton Roads has a mild, temperate coastal climate, so residents can enjoy the many outdoor recreational options in Virginia year-round. Each season is distinct, but temperatures and conditions are still enjoyable.
Average temperatures in the summer months hover around a humid 77 degrees. Average fall temperatures are approximately 62 degrees. In the winter, Hampton Roads receives an average of 10.37 inches of precipitation, with an average temperature of 42 degrees. In the spring, warm and humid conditions return, with average temperatures of 58 degrees.
Every second counts in a disaster so planning and preparation can be lifesavers.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management gives residents, communities, public safety professionals, businesses and schools valuable information and resources regarding a variety of emergency scenarios. The website provides information on creating an emergency plan and emergency kit, pet preparedness and disaster preparedness for seniors. The department even offers the free Virginia Ready mobile app, which features maps, survival supplies lists and a service to send a text to contacts letting them know you’re OK in the event of an emergency. For more information, visit www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover.
The following are considered significant hazards in Hampton Roads.
Flash flooding, especially during hurricane season, is possible in Virginia. A flash flood watch is issued when flash flooding is expected within six hours after heavy rains have ended. A flash flood warning is issued for life- and property-threatening flooding that will occur within six hours. During a flash flood watch or warning, stay tuned to local radio or TV stations or a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio for weather information.
If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, seek higher ground. Avoid walking through any floodwaters — even water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. The majority of deaths in a flash flood occur when people try to drive through flooded areas. Roads concealed by water may not be intact. Water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
Hurricanes in Virginia are rare because most tropical storms weaken as they reach the cooler coastal waters and western winds in the north. However, heavy rain, flooding and tornadoes from hurricanes can be a problem. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Virginians. Matthew’s torrential rains and storm surges caused widespread flooding and damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure; two people were killed. Five years earlier, in 2011, Hurricane Irene caused more than $360 million in damages in Virginia. It also was responsible for one of the largest power outages in the state’s history, with as many as 2.5 million people experiencing blackouts. At least four Virginians lost their lives.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. It is important to have a plan in place to prepare for these hazards. To learn more, go to https://tinyurl.com/74peaex.
Virginia is subject to severe thunderstorms, especially during hurricane season. A thunderstorm can knock out power and bring high winds, lightning and flash flooding. Pay attention to storm warnings. Remember the rule: “When thunder roars, head indoors.” Once inside, avoid electrical appliances and plumbing fixtures and use only a cordless telephone in an emergency. Unplug your desktop computer. Do the same with other electronics or use surge protectors. The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 Rule: People should seek shelter if the “Flash-to-Bang” delay — length of time in seconds from the sight of the lightning flash to the arrival of its thunder — is 30 seconds or less, and remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final thunderclap.
Visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov for more information.
Virginia averages 18 tornadoes per year, the National Weather Service says, though in 2011, the state recorded nearly 50 twisters, the second-most on record. Tornadoes can develop quickly with minimal warning, so it is important to have a plan in place. A tornado watch means weather conditions, such as a severe thunderstorm, favor the formation of tornadoes. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately during a tornado warning.
Know where the safest place to shelter is in your home — a basement, or an inside room on the lowest floor (like a closet or bathroom) if your home does not have a basement. Avoid windows and get under something sturdy, like a heavy table, and cover your body with a blanket or mattress to protect yourself from flying debris.
For more information, visit www.emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes.
Hampton Roads occasionally experiences severe winter weather, so prepare by assembling a disaster supply kit for your home and your vehicle. Have your car winterized before the winter storm season arrives. Listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead.
A winter storm watch means a winter storm is possible. A winter storm warning means one is headed for your area. A blizzard warning means strong winds, blinding snow and dangerous wind chills are expected. Avoid travel during these watches and warnings.
Winter storms can cause power outages. During a power outage, gather in a central room with an alternative heat source like a fireplace. Be sure to keep a screen around an open flame and don’t close the damper while the ashes are still hot.
During the day, open drapes and blinds to let the sun warm the space. Close them at night to minimize heat loss. If the indoor temperature drops below 55 degrees, open faucets slightly so they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
For more information, visit https://tinyurl.com/85x5l3x.