Rappahannock Erosion During Isabel

October 19, 2003


Provided by: Pat Cooley
Summary authors & editors: Shane Cooley

The photo above was taken on September 19, 2003 and shows erosion along the Rappahannock River of Virginia, which occurred during Hurricane Isabel. Wind gusts of over 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour) were recorded in portions of Virginia's tidewater region, knocking down trees and power lines. However, much of Isabel's damage was attributed to its tidal surge, which was so ferocious it could be heard roaring at least 200 yards away (183 m). It not only undercut the gazebo pictured above, approximately 9 feet (3 m) above the normal waterline, but it completely submerged the rip-raft that had been laid down to protect the shore here. The tidal surge also devoured piers and bulkheads. In fact, few piers were left standing along this stretch of the Rappahannock. Schools in Richmond County were closed 4 days, and Lancaster County schools were closed 8 days as a result of this storm. We have to make up 3 days plus an extra 20 minutes per day for all of November -- doh! See also the Earth Science Picture of the Day for October 26, 2000.

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