Saturday, August 27, 2016

Episode 331 (8-29-16): Present and Past along Passage Creek in Fort Valley


CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:41)


Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 8-26-16.


TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of August 29, 2016.

This week, we visit an area of western Virginia that’s been called “a gem within a gem”: Passage Creek and Fort Valley, tucked away within the Shenandoah Valley. Have a listen for about 35 seconds to sounds heard traveling along Fort Valley Road on a recent August day.

SOUNDS – ~35 sec – Cars, crickets, cicadas, birds, motorcycle, and stream flow

A large section of Virginia’s famous Shenandoah Valley is divided by Massanutten Mountain, a complex formation of ridges, pinnacles, and valleys.  Separating the Shenandoah River’s north and south forks, the Massanutten stretches from U.S. 33 near Harrisonburg about 50 miles northeastward to U.S. 55 near Front Royal.  For most of the mountain’s northern half, the Massanutten itself is split into two main ridges, separated by Passage Creek and its valley, known in the 1700s as Powell’s Fort Valley, now simply Fort Valley.

For native tribes and then for European settlers, the area offered fertile land, water, and other natural resources, within a highly defensible area. In fact, during the Revolutionary War, George Washington—who had surveyed the area in the 1740s—reportedly planned to use Fort Valley as a stronghold against the British, if that had become necessary.  In the 1800s, iron ore mining and processing were powered by Passage Creek; remnants of that activity remain at the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area, part of the George Washington National Forest.  During the Civil War, high points on the Massanutten above Fort Valley were used by soldiers to relay signals, and Signal Knob’s name captures that history.  Today, Fort Valley still includes farms and small communities, now adjacent to the Washington National Forest. Passage Creek no longer powers iron furnaces, but it supports a relatively high diversity of fish, amphibians, and other aquatic species; attracts anglers, paddlers, and hikers; and provides water for a Virginia state fish hatchery.

Splitting the prominences of Massanutten Mountain, Passage Creek and Fort Valley have generated and still harbor a wealth of biological, historical, and scenic gems.

We close with part of “Rescue Me, Virginia,” by the Harrisonburg, Va.-based band The Steel Wheels, in tribute to Fort Valley’s history as a potential Revolutionary War refuge for George Washington’s army, and to the attachments people develop to special Virginia places, like Passage Creek and the valley it shapes.

MUSIC - ~ 30 sec

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463. Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

All sounds were recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Fort Valley on August 22, 2016.

“Rescue Me, Virginia,” is from The Steel Wheels’ 2015 album, “Leave Some Things Behind,” used with permission.   More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at http://www.thesteelwheels.com/.

PHOTOS
 Passage Creek near the Front Royal Fish Hatchery Station in Warren County, Va., August 22, 2016.

Fort Valley, looking north (down the valley) at Ramsey Road in Shenandoah County, Va., August 22, 2016.
 
Trinity Brethren Church (completed in 1904) on Dry Run Road in Shenandoah County, Va., August 22, 2016. The building is now part of the Fort Valley Museum.


SOURCES USED IN AUDIO AND FOR MORE INFORMATION

American Whitewater, “Passage Creek – Elizabeth Furnace to Waterlick (Route 55),” online at http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/1981.

Michael B. Duncan et al., “A Multi-taxa Biological Survey of Passage Creek, Virginia,” Northeastern Naturalist, Vol. 18, No. 3 (2011), pages 357-369.

Fort Valley Museum, online at http://www.fortvalleymuseum.org/home.

Buz Groshong, “Signal Knob,” June 17, 2011, online at http://www.summitpost.org/signal-knob/151983.

Jean Stephenson, “The Massanuttens,” Potomac Appalachian Trail Club Bulletin (now Potomac Appalachian), July 1934, online at http://www.patc.us/history/archive/massntn.html.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Forest Service, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests: home page, http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/gwj/home; “Guide to Camping, Hiking and History at the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area,” online (as PDF) at http://shenandoahcountyva.us/tourism/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2014/01/Elizabeth_Furnace_rec_Area_info_booklet-sm-res1.pdf; and “Cultural History,” online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gwj/learning/history-culture/?cid=FSBDEV3_000460.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “State Hatcheries,” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/fish-stocking/state-hatcheries/.

Virginia Works Progress Administration (WPA) Historical Inventory Project, “Powell’s Fort Valley,” 1937, online at the Shenandoah County (Va.) GenWeb Project, http://www.vagenweb.org/shenandoah/hom/S_pfv.html.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “History” and the “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” categories.

SOLS INFORMATION FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS

This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Earth Science Course
ES.8 - influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

Biology Course
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Virginia Studies Course
VS.2 – physical geography of Virginia past and present.
VS.5 – role of Virginia in the American Revolution.

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.2 – water features important to the early history of the United States.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.3 - how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.
WG.6 - past and present trends in human migration and cultural interaction as influenced by social, economic, political, and environmental factors.

Virginia and United States History Course
VU.7 - knowledge of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era.

Government Course
GOVT.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Episode 330 (8-22-16): “Natural Disaster” by John McCutcheon Opens a Mid-season Window on the Atlantic Tropical Storm Season


CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:20)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 8-19-16.

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of August 22, 2016.

MUSIC - ~ 9 sec

This week, that music, by an internationally acclaimed musician who called Virginia home for many years, helps us mark an important turning point in the Atlantic tropical storm season. Have a listen for about 50 seconds.

MUSIC - ~49 sec

You’ve been listening to part of “Natural Disaster” by John McCutcheon, on his 1998 album “Four Seasons: Autumn Songs,” from Rounder Records. Prior to moving to Atlanta in 2006, Wisconsin native John McCutcheon was a long-time resident of Charlottesville, Virginia. While “Natural Disaster” is about the whirlwind caused by the arrival of a new baby, hearing an excerpt at this time of year reminds us that we’re right in the middle of the Atlantic tropical storm season. The season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, although Atlantic tropical storms sometimes occur in other months, as well—such as 2016’s first Atlantic tropical storm, Hurricane Alex in January. But mid-August through late October is typically the most active part of the Atlantic season, according to historical records. This year, through August 18, six named tropical storms had formed in the Atlantic basin so far, including two hurricanes. In its August 11 updated season outlook, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that 2016 may turn out to be the most active Atlantic season since 2012, with forecasters asserting a 70-percent chance of a season total of 12 to 17 named storms, 5 to 8 hurricanes, and 2 to 4 major hurricanes.

Unlike babies, there’s nothing cuddly about tropical storms. But just like the child in John McCutcheon’s song, tropical storms can surprise us and turn the place upside down. So with the historically most active part of the Atlantic tropical storm season upon us, stay ready for some high-impact arrivals. Thanks to Mr. McCutcheon and Appalseed Productions for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with few more seconds of “Natural Disaster.”

MUSIC - ~ 13 sec

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463. Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show. In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
“Natural Disaster” and “Four Seasons: Autumn Songs” are copyright by John McCutcheon/Appalsongs and Si Kahn/Joe Hill Music, used with permission of Appalseed Productions. More information about John McCutcheon is available from his Web site, http://www.folkmusic.com/.

This episode is a revision of Episode 226 (8-11-14), which has been archived.

IMAGES


NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) graph showing the predicted number of Atlantic tropical storms in 100 years, based on historical records. The NOAA caption states, “As seen in the graph above, the peak of the season is from mid-August to late October. However, deadly hurricanes can occur anytime in the hurricane season.” Graph accessed at National Hurricane Center Web site, “Tropical Cyclone Climatology,” online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/climo/.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) mid-season update on the outlook for the 2016 Atlantic tropical storm season, as of August 11, 2016. Graphic accessed at http://www.noaa.gov/media-release/atlantic-hurricane-season-still-expected-to-be-strongest-since-2012.

SOURCES

Used for Audio

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook as of August 11, 2016, online at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/outlooks/hurricane.shtml; and Atlantic hurricane season still expected to be strongest since 2012; Forecasters now expect 70-percent chance of 12–17 named storms, 8/11/16 news release.

National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center (NHC) main Web site, at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/; archive of previous storms, online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2016/; and overall data archive, online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/ (see particularly “Past Track Seasonal Maps” and “Tropical Cyclone Climatology”).

Information on John McCutcheon was taken from So long: McCutcheon Signs Off in Song, Charlottesville Hook, 11/13/07; “John McCutcheon's Back for Show at Haven,” Charlottesville Daily Progress, as published by Greene County Record, 8/1/11; “John McCutcheon page” on Web site of the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, online at https://wvfest.com/artists/john-mccutcheon; and John McCutcheon’s Web site, www.folkmusic.com.

NOAA/Hurricane Research Division, “Chronological List of All Hurricanes which Affected the Continental United States: 1851-2007,” online at http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hurdat/ushurrlist18512007.txt.

For More Information about Tropical Storms and Hurricanes

Several sources of information on tropical storms and preparedness are listed in the show notes for Virginia Water Radio Episode 317 (5-23-16), “After Hurricane Alex’ Unusual January Appearance, Atlantic Tropical Storm Season 2016 Officially Begins June 1.”

Satellite imagery of current tropical storms is available online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/satellite.php.

Information on El Nino and La Nina is available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “El Nino Portal,” online at http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html). See particularly the “Weather” category.

Previous episodes on tropical storms include the following:
Episode 163 – 5/27/13 (annual season-preview episode);
Episode 215 – 5/26/14 (annual season-preview episode);
Episode 266 - 5/18/15 (annual season-preview episode);
Episode 317 - 5/23/16 (annual season-preview episode).

SOLS INFORMATION FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS

This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth/Space Interrelationships Theme
2.6 - weather phenomena
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.
5.6 – characteristics of the ocean environment.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
6.6 – Properties of air (including pressure, temperature, and humidity) and structure/dynamics of earth’s atmosphere.

Earth Science Course
ES.12 – energy, atmosphere, weather, and climate.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 English SOLs:

Reading Theme
8.5 (symbols and figurative language).
9.4 (imagery and other literary devices).
10.4 (imagery and other literary devices).
11.4 (imagery and figures of speech).

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Episode 329 (8-15-16): Swallows


CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:55)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 8-12-16.


TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of August 15, 2016.

SOUND – ~ 5 sec

This week, that clatter of calls introduces a family of birds known for forked tails, tricky flying, and insect feeding. Have a listen for about 40 seconds to sounds from three species, and see if you can guess this bird family. And here’s a hint: if you get the right answer, you won’t have to do THIS to a bitter pill or your pride.

SOUNDS - ~41 sec

If you guessed swallows, you’re right! You heard a Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, and Tree Swallow, and the episode’s opening sound was a colony of Bank Swallows. Out of eight North American species of swallows, six species are summer breeders in Virginia: the three you heard, plus the Northern Rough-winged Swallow, the Purple Martin, and—perhaps the most familiar—the Barn Swallow, known for building mud nests in human structures. As a group, swallows are distinctive for their habit of flying fast over land or water to catch insects in their wide-opening beaks. Flying swallows can also be seen dipping their beaks into water to drink. Water habitats are important for several swallow species, such as Bank Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows nesting in streambanks, and Cliff Swallows building mud nests near rivers, lakes, or wetlands. Several swallow species are also noted for gathering in large groups, either in nesting colonies, migrating flocks, or non-breeding roosting flocks.

Swallows are a dynamic part of Virginia’s summer air-space; look for these insect-eating aerialists near water, meadows, barns, bridges, and bird boxes.

Thanks to the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for permission to use this week’s sounds, and we close with the sound of a Cliff Swallow colony, recorded in 2006 along the Kanuti River in Alaska.

SOUND - ~ 10 sec

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463. Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show. In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This episode’s bird sounds were provided by the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (online at http://macaulaylibrary.org/), used with permission. The original recordings were as follows:
Bank Swallow colony, catalog number 94971 - recorded by Matthew D. Medler, June 1998, in Tompkins County, New York;
Bank Swallow individual, catalog number 106597 – recorded by Randolph S. Little, May 1994, near Frenchglen, Oregon;
Cliff Swallow individual, catalog number 111063 – recorded by Thomas G. Sander, May 1988, in Marin County, California;
Tree Swallow individual, catalog number 89769 – recorded by Amanda Westervelt, May 1998, in Tomkins County, New York;
Cliff Swallow colony, catalog number 130281 – recorded by Michael J. Andersen and Gerrit Vyn, June 2006, in Yukon-Koyukuk County, Alaska.

Thanks to Matthew Young of the Macaulay Library for his help in providing the sound files used in this episode.

PHOTOS

Tree Swallow in William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, March 2009. Photo by George Gentry, made available for public use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library, online at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov.

Barn Swallow in Oregon, June 2012. Photo by Lee Karney, made available for public use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library, online at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov.



SWALLOWS IN VIRGINIA 

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at http://vafwis.org/fwis/?Menu=Home.Species+Information), the six species of swallows known to occur in Virginia are the following (scientific name in parentheses):

Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia);

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica);

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota pyrrhonota);

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis);

Purple Martin (Progne subis);

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor).

Following are some excerpts from the VDGIF’s/Fish and Wildlife Information Service entries on Life History for the six swallows that breed in Virginia.

Bank: “Nest is a burrow dug into a river or streambank. Nest is a burrow dug into a river or streambank. May be up to 6 feet deep. ...Uses hawking, and skimming water surface to catch flying insects. Territory is restricted to the area immediately surrounding the nest site. Species is very gregarious in nesting and feeding. These swallows feed colonially which may be an adaptation to more effectively locate insect swarms.”

Barn: “Nests are built most commonly in buildings with open beams. Nests are constructed of mud pellets, straw and feathers. ...They will nest under bridges along with cliff swallows. Barn swallows may be aggressive at or near their nest sites, in that they may dive at or near intruders. ...Use hawking and skimming water surface as means of catching flying insects. ...They use sustained flight over water, fields, and other open habitats to capture flying insects.”

Cliff: “Nest is built under a bridge or dam, eaves and interior of barns and sheds or attached to cliff face. ...Uses hawking and skimming water surface to capture flying insects which are almost 100% of its diet. May feed many miles from nest site. Territory is restricted to immediate vicinity of nest site. Colonies have been counted at upwards of a 100 nests. In places where barn swallows nest little competition takes place since Cliff swallows nest near entrance and barn swallows nest farther back into barn. House sparrows are main competitors for nest sites

Northern Rough-winged: “Nest is usually in a burrow in a sandy bank of a stream. Nest is made of rootlets, weed stems, and dried grass. ...Solitary or semi-colonial nester. Colony may consist of two to six pairs. Do not dig their own burrows, preferring to use old bank swallow or kingfisher burrows. They use hawking and skimming water surface to capture flying insects.”

Purple Martin: “Usually nests in colonies; most of insect food caught in air, some while walking on ground; nest in cavities of small trees and in birdhouses built by [humans]; nesting material consists of nearly anything handy: leaves, rags, paper, string, or grass; nest made of a miscellaneous collection of sticks, wood stems, feathers, grasses, and mud; likes open grassy river valleys, shores of lakes, meadows about ponds, and coastal marshes.”

Tree: “Very jealous of its territory; engaging in flights in the spring to determine which shall leave the area; the first of the swallow species to arrive in spring and last to leave in the fall; ...in September mix with oncoming flocks of bank, barn, and cliff swallows; in summer begin collecting into enormous flocks feeding in most all northern marshes; most spend winter in Mexico but some spend all winter north of Carolinas; feeds almost entirely on insects taken in flight; sweeps about in loose flocks or in small groups low over open fields, surface of small ponds, up and down canyon streams; circles at great heights when insects flying high; perches in rows on utility wires; during migration and in winter it has a habit of roosting on bayberry and wax myrtle shrubs and at those periods will eat a great many berries; nests about habitations on the outskirts of cities and in the country; naturally nest in holes in trees or stumps, preferably in the vicinity of water; large numbers take abode in houses provided for them by [humans], providing that house sparrows and European starlings are kept away; habitat is open country near water; marshes, meadows, streams, lakes, wires.”

SOURCES

Used in Audio

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, “All About Birds,” online at http://www.allaboutbirds.org.

Chandler S. Robbins et al., A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2001.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at http://vafwis.org/fwis/?Menu=Home.Species+Information.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Living with Swallows,” online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/swallows.html.

For More Information about Birds in Virginia and Elsewhere

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithologists’ Union, “Birds of North America Online,” online at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna (subscription required).

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society, “eBird” Web site at http://ebird.org/content/ebird/. Here you can find locations of species observations made by contributors, and you can sign up to contribute your own observations.

Virginia Society of Ornithology, online at http://www.virginiabirds.net. The Society is non-profit organization dedicated to the study, conservation, and enjoyment of birds in the Commonwealth.

Xeno-canto Foundation Web site at http://www.xeno-canto.org/. The site provides bird songs from around the world.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html). See particularly the “Birds” category.

SOLS INFORMATION FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS

This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
1.5 - animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
2.4 - life cycles.
3.4 - behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 - living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.5 - food webs.
3.6 - ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.

Life Science Course
LS. 4 - organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.6 - ecosystem interactions, including the water cycle, other cycles, and energy flow.
LS.8 - community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.

Biology Course
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Episode 328 (8-8-16): Flash Flooding, Featuring "Rain in the Valley" by the Steel Wheels


Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 8-5-16.


TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of August 8, 2016.

MUSIC – ~ 9 sec

This week, music by a Harrisonburg, Va.-based band helps deliver a message about flash flooding, one of the most dangerous kinds of weather-related disasters. Have a listen for about 40 seconds.

MUSIC - ~ 42 sec

You’ve been listening to part of “Rain in the Valley,” by The Steel Wheels, from their 2012 album, “Lay Down, Lay Low.” According to the song’s composer, the lyrics were inspired by a friend’s experience of a flash flood in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Fortunately, that friend lived to tell the tale, because flash floods all too frequently have tragic consequences, including very recently in West Virginia in June 2016 and in Ellicott City, Maryland, on July 30, 2016.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, floods in general are the most common weather-related disaster, and flash floods are the most dangerous kind of floods because they combine the destructive power, incredible speed, and unpredictability. Flash floods typically occur when intense rainfall causes rapid water rises in waterways or even in normally dry channels. Some flash-flood risk areas include low spots in urban areas; steep terrain, particularly if recently burned or otherwise unvegetated; recreation areas along streams or rivers; low-water crossings; areas subject to ice jams or rapid snowmelt; and areas behind river levees or below dams, which, unfortunately, sometimes fail.

Wherever you are, if you receive a National Weather Service flash flood watch, be alert to possible flash flooding within the designated watch area; and if you receive a flash flood warning, take necessary precautions at once, because flash flooding has been reported or is imminent. Among the most important precautions are the following: if you receive a warning, head for higher ground; stay away from floodwaters; avoid walking or driving through flowing water; if water is rising around your vehicle, get out of the car and move to higher ground; and avoid camping or parking along streams or rivers during the warning period.

More details on flash floods or other floods are available from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, online at readyvirginia.gov.

Thanks to The Steel Wheels for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with a few more seconds of “Rain in the Valley.”

MUSIC - ~ 15 sec

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463. Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show. In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This week’s music, “Rain in the Valley,” written by Trent Wagler, is from The Steel Wheels’ 2012 album, “Lay Down, Lay Low,” used with permission. More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at http://www.thesteelwheels.com/Information on the song’s background was taken from Songfacts, “Rain in the Valley by The Steel Wheels,” undated, online at http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=29969.


IMAGES

Above: Floods caused the highest number of weather-related fatalities in the United States in 2015, and the second-highest number over the past 30 years. Image from National Weather Service/Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services, “Natural Hazard Statistics,” online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hazstats.shtml.


 An example of how quickly small streams can rise and fall. Upper: Stroubles Creek after heavy rain on the Virginia Tech campus, September 29, 2015, 12:30 p.m. Lower: The same stream on September 30, 2015, 9:30 a.m.


A sample of road signs warning motorists not to drive through flooded roadways.  Upper and middle: along Passage Creek in Fort Valley in Shenandoah County, Va., Aug. 22, 2016; lower: along Duck Pond Drive before the Stroubles Creek crossing on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Sep. 13, 2016.

EXTRA FACTS ABOUT FLASH FLOODING

[An excerpt from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Severe Storms Laboratory, “Severe Weather 101: Floods,” online at http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/floods/.]

Flood Basics

Flooding is an overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods can happen during heavy rains, when ocean waves come on shore, when snow melts too fast, or when dams or levees break. Flooding may happen with only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop. They can occur quickly or over a long period and may last days, weeks, or longer. Floods are the most common and widespread of all weather-related natural disasters.

Flash floods are the most dangerous kind of floods, because they combine the destructive power of a flood with incredible speed and unpredictability. Flash floods occur when excessive water fills normally dry creeks or river beds along with currently flowing creeks and rivers, causing rapid rises of water in a short amount of time. They can happen with little or no warning.

Flooding occurs in every U.S. state and territory, and is a threat experienced anywhere in the world that receives rain. In the U.S. floods kill more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning.

What areas are at risk from flash floods?

Densely populated areas are at a high risk for flash floods. The construction of buildings, highways, driveways, and parking lots increases runoff by reducing the amount of rain absorbed by the ground. This runoff increases the flash flood potential.

Sometimes, streams through cities and towns are routed underground into storm drains. During heavy rain, the storm drains can become overwhelmed and flood roads and buildings. Low spots, such as underpasses, underground parking garages, and basements can become death traps.

Areas near rivers are at risk from flash floods. Embankments, known as levees, are often built along rivers and are used to prevent high water from flooding bordering land. In 1993, many levees failed along the Mississippi River, resulting in devastating flash floods. The city of New Orleans experienced massive devastating flooding days after Hurricane Katrina came onshore in 2005 due to the failure of levees designed to protect the city.

Dam failures can send a sudden destructive wall of water downstream. In 1889 a dam break upstream from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, released a 30-40 foot wall of water that killed 2200 people within minutes.

Mountains and steep hills produce rapid runoff, which causes streams to rise quickly. Rocks and clay soils do not allow much water to infiltrate the ground. Saturated soil also can lead rapidly to flash flooding. Vacationing or recreating along streams or rivers can be a risk if there are thunderstorms in the area. A creek only 6 inches deep in mountainous areas can swell to a 10-foot deep raging river in less than an hour if a thunderstorm lingers over an area for an extended period of time.

Very intense rainfall can produce flooding even on dry soil. In the West, most canyons, small streams and dry arroyos are not easily recognizable as a source of danger. A wall of water 10-15 feet high can scour a canyon suddenly.

Additional high-risk locations include low water crossings, recent burn areas in mountains, and urban areas from pavement and roofs which concentrate rainfall runoff.

Ice jams and snowmelt can help cause flash floods.

SOURCES

Used for Audio

Tom DiLiberto, Thousand-year' downpour led to deadly West Virginia floods, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate.gov Web site, 7/8/16.

Jeff Halverson, This is how an ‘off-the-charts’ flood ravaged Ellicott City, Washington Post, 8/1/16. The item includes a 1 min./25 sec. video, “How a flash flood occurs and what you should do if caught in one,” by Clarita Jimenez.

American Red Cross, “Flood Safety,” online at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood; or contact your local chapter (listed in your local phone directory).

Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Floods,” online at http://www.ready.gov/floods.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Severe Storms Laboratory, “Severe Weather 101: Floods,” online at http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/floods/.

National Weather Service, “Flood Safety,” online at http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/.

National Weather Service/Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services, “Natural Hazard Statistics,” online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hazstats.shtml.

National Weather Service/Sterling, Va., Forecast Office, “Ellicott City Historic Rain and Flash Flood-July 30, 2016,” online at http://www.weather.gov/lwx/EllicottCityFlood2016.

Jason Samenow, “West Virginia flood was ‘one in a thousand year event,’ Weather Service says; more heavy rain forecast,” Washington Post, 6/27/16.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Floods,” online at http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/floods.

West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Flood Update from WVDHSEM Tuesday Morning, June 28, 2016.

For More Information about Severe Weather Events

Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Natural Disasters,” online at https://www.ready.gov/natural-disasters.

FloodList, online at http://floodlist.com/. This Web site reports news of floods around the world; see http://floodlist.com/about-us for a description of the site’s purpose, funding, and staff.

National Flood Insurance Program, online at https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/. This site includes a tool for determining a given property’s financial flood risk.

National Weather Service, “Weather Safety,” online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/safety.php.

National Weather Service/Storm Prediction Center, online at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), “Ready Virginia” Web site, online at http://www.vaemergency.gov/ReadyVirginia; or contact VDEM at (804) 897-6500 or pio@vdem.virginia.gov.

Virginia Water Central News Grouper posts on news, events, and information resources relevant to severe weather, online at https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=severe+weather.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).

Previous episodes on flash flooding are Episode 272, 6/29/15 (on flash floods centered in Madison County, Va., in June 1995) and Episode 192 (12/16/13) (on the Rockfish River in Nelson County, Va., in 1969). A previous episode on historic river flood levels is Episode 86, 10/31/11.

A previous episode on National Weather Service watches and warnings is Episode 102, 4-91-12.

For other episodes on weather and disaster preparedness, see the Weather/Natural Disasters topic category in the Index.

SOLS INFORMATION FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS

This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems Theme
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Earth Science Course
ES.8 - influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.
ES.12 – weather and climate.

Biology Course
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.6 - past and present trends in human migration and cultural interaction as influenced by social, economic, political, and environmental factors.

Government Course
GOVT.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 English SOLs:

Reading Theme
10.4 (imagery and other literary devices)
9.4 (imagery and other literary devices)
11.4 (imagery and figures of speech)

The episode may also help with Virginia 2013 Music SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.