Monday, October 31, 2011

Episode 86 (October 31, 2011): High-water Mark Sign Dedication for New River at Radford

Click to listen to episode (3:34).

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of October 31, 2011.  This week’s somewhat-longer episode features comments from an October 18 ceremony unveiling a record high-water marker for the New River at Radford.  The comments are by Richard Harshberger, vice-mayor of the City of Radford; Anthony Phillips, who donated the Radford high-water marker; Dave Wert, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service’s Blacksburg office; and Peter Corrigan, service hydrologist at Blacksburg office.  Have a listen for about two minutes. 

[Richard Harshberger:] “Good morning.  On behalf of the City of Radford, I’m honored and pleased to receive the second high-water-mark sign in the Commonwealth.” 

[Anthony Phillips:] “The actual hurricane that produced these record floods developed down in the Caribbean on August 5th, 1940.....  After it made landfall, it really slowed down, and actually spent three days over the southern Appalachians.  And it started raining here in Virginia on August 13, and of course this flood occurred on August 14.  And it spent three or four days over land, just producing copious amounts of rainfall.  The water that produced this record rainfall actually occurred over Floyd in the Little River, which runs into the New upstream...they got 17 inches in two days in Floyd County.” 

[Dave Wert:]  “It’s flooding, and flash flooding specifically, that produces overwhelmingly the most number of deaths annually across the nation....  Just a simple Category 1 hurricane coming in on the border of Georgia and South Carolina—a lot of people think that Category 1, Category 2, Category 3, the stronger the storm, the more the potential impact.  That’s not the case, especially when it comes to a flash flood or flooding situation.” 

[Peter Corrigan:] “But, you know, one thing that we’ve noticed in the past five years, 10 years, in increase in massive flooding.  Pennsylvania, Nashville, Tennessee, Atlanta, Georgia—floods that have greatly eclipsed past records.  So, you know, we’re looking at, this is the highest we’ve ever achieved [at Radford] but there’s no reason it can’t be exceeded, even by significant amounts.  Iowa broke a record by 10 feet just recently as 2008, a river that had 100 years of records.  So, this is the highest it’s reached, but it’s not to say it couldn’t reach higher.  And we hope not.” 

As you heard, the record high level for the New River at Radford was produced by rainfall from an August 1940, category 1 hurricane that came ashore along the Georgia-South Carolina border.  That hurricane’s rainfall raised the river level to about 22 feet above flood stage.  The Radford high-water marker is one of three so far in Virginia and 56 nationwide for the National Weather Service’s and U.S. Geological Survey’s High Water Mark Sign project, which aims to increase communities’ awareness of flooding history and potential.  

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water. 


Acknowledgments: The comments in this episode were recorded by Alan Raflo at the October 18, 2011, Radford High Water Mark Sign Unveiling and Dedication, Bissett Park, Radford, Virginia.  A 20-minute recording of the entire ceremony is available at

Sources and More Information: Information about the High Water Mark Sign Project is available at  Photos from the unveiling at Radford on October 18 are available at New River Flood Marker Unveiled in Radford, Virginia Water Central News Grouper blog, 10/18/11.

Recent Virginia Water News

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Water Meetings and Other Events

For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.