Flood watch issued for heavy rainfall

The Northern Shenandoah Valley will be at risk for flash floods through Friday morning due to a low pressure system expected to linger over the area.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for parts of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., starting at 2 a.m. today and lasting until 8 a.m. Friday. The watch described an upper level low pressure system bringing heavy rainfall, especially through this afternoon.

Brian LaSorsa, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Sterling office, said the heaviest rainfall, up to 3 to 5 inches, will likely occur in the northeastern part of the Shenandoah Valley near Winchester. He said the flood watch area’s southern edge, along Staunton and Charlottesville, would likely see around 1 to 3 inches of rain.

“That is some good news, it hasn’t rained a lot … this month,” he said. “The ground will be able to absorb rainfall … the problem is if it falls within a few hours’ period, it’s still going to run off even though the ground’s dry.”

He added that the system is cut off from the jet stream and will be stationary for a few days.

After a July 2015 flooding around Woodstock that caused an estimated $2.8 million in damage to Main Street businesses, the Spring House Tavern completed some restoration and remodeling. Manager Chris Bennett said the tavern has installed flood barriers as mandated by its insurance company for flood coverage. The barriers attach to fixtures along the exterior doors.

“We leave it off normally and then if we expect something, we can slide it right in there,” he said. “It’s just a full metal sheet that slides in, kind of like a baby gate.”

Angela Clem, Woodstock’s town manager, said that town and county officials ready necessary equipment and keep lines of communication open before and during flood events to mitigate property damage.

“It’s nice when we have some warning on any kind of storm events that are going to happen,” she said.

The town’s Facebook page advises residents to keep an emergency preparedness kit, clear storm drains, prepare sandbags and check for weather updates. More information and tips are online at https://www.ready.gov/floods.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com.