Sep 5, 2006

Ernesto drenches Lynchburg

by Joanne Tang, News Editor

Wet leaves are sticking to shoes and many students’ umbrellas have already failed them, torn and bent by the strong winds. Some students are soaked to their knees, a sign that they have stepped in one or two puddles deeper than they thought.

Welcome to hurricane season 2006. Until last week, there had not been much hurricane activity in Virginia. Tropical Storm Alberto struck the Florida coast the first week of hurricane season in June, bringing with it heavy winds and downpours.  In July, Tropical Storm Beryl caused a stir in the Atlantic Ocean near New England. Among the storms so far to have been near the Atlantic region, Ernesto is by far the closest to Lynchburg this year. The Associated Press reported on Aug. 27 that Ernesto had become a Category 1 hurricane and was heading toward Haiti. By Aug. 29, when it made landfall in Florida, Ernesto had been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As it made its way up the coast, it battered North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland with torrential downpours and flooding in many areas. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine called for a state of emergency Thursday, Aug. 31, in light of the approaching storm.

At Liberty, it was business as usual. Getting around was difficult and traffic was horrendous. The halls inside DeMoss and Campus North could not be dried fast enough before another onslaught of wet shoes and dripping umbrellas would turn the floors into an indoor Slip ‘N Slide. 

In Lynchburg, the rain was a welcome sight for many farmers, who have been crippled by a long-standing drought. In all, Lynchburg received more than six inches of rain. There was no major damage reported, though there were many downed trees. In Richmond, there were four fatalities and several hundred thousand residents lost power.

Saturday, Sept. 2, brought a surprise as the sun emerged from the storm clouds and Ernesto left Lynchburg, its last vestiges of rain drying in the bright sunlight and balmy 68-degree temperature.

Overall, this hurricane season has been tamer than forecasters previously predicted. Among the six storms that have passed through the Atlantic region, all but Ernesto were Tropical Storms at their peak. In the west, there has been a smattering of hurricanes, including John, which peaked at a Category 4 and is currently downgraded to a Tropical Storm. It has caused extensive flooding and damage throughout Mexico, California and Arizona.

For an animation showing the effects of hurricanes at different strengths, see http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_national/hurricanes/index_categories.html.

 

Contact Joanne Tang at jtang@liberty.edu.


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