Storm and Full Moon Combine for Extended Coastal Flooding

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By Linda Cicoira — The hunter’s moon lit up the sky for three nights. It’s gravitational pull caused tides to be higher than normal. That, combined with the passing of Tropical Storm Melissa, made for flooding on both the bay and seaside off the Eastern Shore as seen in Saxis, Wachapreague, Quinby, Chincoteague, Cape Charles, and Onancock, to name a few places.

Festival-goers travel down flooded Chincoteague streets to eat oysters last weekend.
Photo by Linda Cicoira
photo curtosy of Captain E’s Hurricane Grill & Bar
The main road into Saxis was flooded and people were unable to get home during the flooding.

Saxis Councilwoman Donna Croushore said flooding on the island “was very, very bad. You couldn’t cross the causeway at one point during the stages. It was all the way almost to the firehouse. Probably the worst we’ve seen since Hurricane Sandy.”

Last Saturday, the Alzheimer’s Walk had to be rerouted in Onancock because North Street was flooded near the sewage plant. At the harbor, water came up to Mt. Prospect Avenue.

The Cape Charles Beach was covered with water that reached the dune line, said Town Manager Larry DiRe. “People may have been surprised but the locals know what they were looking at.”

At the Cape Charles Harbor, floating docks and The Shanty restaurant were fine. Some piers and walkways were covered. DiRe called it “sunny day” flooding.

On Chincoteague, anyone who crossed the bridge to enter the island had to ply the waters at that first intersection. One teacher’s check engine light came on as she made her way along Main Street north to the elementary school. Others who were on their way to the Oyster Festival on Saturday had the same plight at the south end of Main Street.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2018 report showed that in 15 years the incidence of high-tide flooding in the Mid-Atlantic doubled from an average of three days a year in 2000 to six in 2015. Given sea level rise projections, high-tide flooding could occur every other day by the end of the century, the NOAA report said.

Accomack County Emergency Management did not receive any reports of damage, Director C. Ray Pruitt said. “The flooding was due to winds from the northeast (and) increased tide cycles from a low pressure in the Atlantic Ocean,” he said. 

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