Updated On: 2/5/2013 10:57:44 AM
A diverse collection of 10 cities and five counties, Hampton Roads is located in the middle of the Eastern Seaboard. With a population of 1.6 million, it is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. It is home to the world’s greatest natural deep-water harbor, which incorporates the mouths of the Elizabeth River and James River and empties into the Chesapeake Bay. read more...
Hampton Roads has 2,600 miles of shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay and multiple rivers, allowing residents to enjoy a full range of seaside and aquatic activities. Alive with history, Hampton Roads offers residents a glimpse of the past. Walk the cobblestone streets of colonial-era cities, enjoy historic sites like Jamestown or Yorktown, or tour the Cape Henry lighthouse — the oldest government-built lighthouse in the United States.
Hampton Roads also has plenty of modern-day attractions, including many museums, a zoo and an amusement park. A multitude of annual festivals and events, popular restaurants and shopping destinations will keep residents entertained in this rich and vibrant area.
Hampton Roads is where the English first settled America in 1607. Landing in what is now known as Virginia Beach colonists arrived on three ships – the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery — under the direction of Captain Christopher Newport. The newcomers moved on to Jamestown Island and established the first English colony. Hampton Roads’ many waterways proved to be of great use for both commerce and strategic military control of the new settlement.
Hampton Roads was the site of several important battles and events in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. It had particular significance in the Civil War, as well.
The Battle of Hampton Roads is considered one of the most important naval battles of the Civil War. Part of a Confederate effort to break the Union blockade, the battle was the first meeting of combat between ironclad warships – the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. While the duel ended indecisively (as neither ship was able to inflict significant damage on the other), the battle received worldwide attention. Naval powers from around the world stopped constructing wood-hulled ships, forever changing the standards for warships and shipbuilding in general.
And it was here, with the Confederacy on the brink of collapse, President Abraham Lincoln met with three senior Confederates at the Hampton Roads Conference. The four-hour conference was an attempt to negotiate for peace, as Lincoln wanted the states to return to the Union.
The Confederates continued to demand complete independence, however, and so the conference ended in failure.
Today, the area’s 400 years of American history draws visitors from around the world. It is home to nearly 50 historical sites, including Fort Monroe, Colonial Williamsburg and the Portsmouth Naval Museum. Hampton Roads continues to make history with its naval presence and ships like the USS Wisconsin, which began its service in World War II. After serving in the Persian Gulf in Operation Desert Storm, the ship was decommissioned and is now docked at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
Hampton Roads has a mild, temperate coastal climate, allowing residents to enjoy the many outdoor recreational options in Virginia yearround. Each season is distinct, but temperatures and conditions are still enjoyable.
Average temperatures in the summer months hover around a humid 77 degrees. Average fall temperatures are approximately 62 degrees. In the winter, Hampton Roads receives an average of 10.37 inches of precipitation, with an average temperature of 42.1 degrees. In the spring, warm and humid conditions return, with average temperatures of 57.5 degrees.
Flash flooding, especially during hurricane season, is a possibility in Virginia. A flash flood watch is issued when flash flooding is expected to occur within six hours after heavy rains have ended. A flash flood warning is issued for life and property-threatening flooding that will occur within six hours. During a flash flood watch or warning, stay tuned to local radio or TV stations or a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio for further weather information.
If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, seek higher ground. Avoid walking through any floodwaters — even water six inches deep can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. The majority of deaths in a flash flood occur when people drive through flooded areas. Roads concealed by water may not be intact. Water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
Hurricanes in Virginia are rare, as most tropical storms weaken as they reach the cooler coastal waters and western winds in the north. However, heavy rain, flooding and tornadoes from hurricanes can be a problem. In 2011, Hurricane Irene caused more than $360 million in damages in Virginia. It also was responsible for one of the largest power outages in Virginia history, with as many as 2.5 million people experiencing blackouts.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. It is important to have a plan in place to prepare for these hazards. To learn more about the dangers of hurricanes and hurricane preparedness in Virginia, go to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website at www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/hurricanes.
Virginia is subject to severe thunderstorms, especially during hurricane season. A thunderstorm can knock out power and bring high winds, lightning and flash flooding. Pay close attention to storm warnings and always follow the instructions of local officials. Head indoors when thunder and lightning hits, avoiding electrical appliances and plumbing fixtures. Unplug desktop computers and other electronics, or use a surge protector. The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 Rule, which states that people should seek shelter if the “flash-to-bang” delay (length in time in seconds from the sight of the lightning to the arrival of thunder) is 30 seconds or less and should remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final thunder clap. For more information, visit the National Weather Service at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov
Over the last decade, Virginia has had an average of 24 tornadoes per year. Tornadoes can develop quickly, with minimal warning, so it is important to have a plan in place before they occur. If a tornado watch is issued, weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes, such as during a severe thunderstorm.
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar. You should take shelter immediately during a tornado warning.
Know where the safest place of shelter is in your home — a basement, or an inside room on the lowest floor (like a closet or bathroom) if your home does not have a basement. Avoid windows and get under something sturdy, like a heavy table, and cover your body with a blanket or mattress to protect yourself from flying debris.
For more information on tornado preparedness, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes
Hampton Roads occasionally experiences severe winter weather, so prepare for winter storms by assembling a disaster supply kit for your home and vehicle. Have your car winterized before the winter storm season arrives. Listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead.
A winter storm watch means a winter storm is possible in your area. A winter storm warning means one is headed for your area. A blizzard warning means strong winds, blinding snow and dangerous wind chills are expected. Avoid travel during these watches and warnings.
Winter storms can cause power outages.
During a power outage, gather in a central room with an alternative heat source like a fi replace. Be sure to keep a screen around an open flame and don’t close the damper while the ashes are still hot.
During the day, open drapes and blinds to let the sun warm the space. Close them at night to minimize heat loss. If the indoor temperature drops below 55 degrees, open faucets slightly so they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
For more information on winter preparedness, visit www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/winter