Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mid Atlantic Hurricane Irene Damage

a downed tree from Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene struck the Mid Atlantic on August 27, 2011, packing high winds, heavy rain, storm surges, unusually high tides and flash floods.

Throughout the region, power outages were reported throughout the first afternoon, Saturday night and into Sunday.

On Sunday, August 28, 2011, residents in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware were discovering a variety of damage as Hurricane Irene decreased to tropical storm status.

By late morning, the skies cleared, winds subsided and many businesses opened in southern areas. Meanwhile, the storm continued battering New Jersey, New York and much of New England.

Major media outlets reported at least 15 storm-related deaths throughout the Atlantic states. Throughout the region, residents experienced evacuations, power outages and storm damage.

In Virginia and North Carolina, beaches were battered and fishing piers were demolished.

Much of the worst damage from Hurricane Irene occurred in New Jersey, where flooding caused extensive property damage.

As expected, flash floods occurred throughout much of the Mid Atlantic region, resulting in loss of life in some cases.

By Monday, August 29, remnants of the storm were affecting eastern Canada. Flooding in parts of the Mid Atlantic and New England.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene to Strike Mid Atlantic

After days of speculation concerning the path of Hurricane Irene, much of the Mid Atlantic snapped into action on August 25th as predictions made it clear that there was a significant risk of danger.

Several Mid Atlantic states declared a state of emergency, including parts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New York.

The City of Virginia Beach began urging visitors and residents to voluntarily evacuate Sandbridge from noon Friday, Aug. 26, to noon Saturday, Aug. 27, and stay away until the storm has passed.

Other evacuations were underway in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Ocean City Md, Cape May and other northern beaches.

On the same day, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port set Hurricane condition X-ray for the Port of Hampton Roads in preparation for Hurricane Irene.

For information on Hurricane Irene's progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center's web page at the following link -

For hurricane tips and information, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency at

Monday, August 22, 2011

Will Hurricane Irene Affect Mid Atlantic States?

On August 22, 2011, The 5th District Coast Guard urged mariners and residents to begin planning and prepare for Hurricane Irene.

According to the Coast Guard people should remember the following guidelines as hurricanes approach:

- Stay informed: The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through newspapers, the Internet, and local television and radio stations. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF-FM channel 16. Small craft advisories and warnings are also available on VHF-FM channel 16.

- Evacuate as necessary: Mandatory evacuation orders should be obeyed. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate people in danger during a storm.

- Secure your boats and boating equipment: Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less likely to break free of their moorings or to be otherwise damaged. Boats that can be trailered should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those mariners who leave their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, life jackets and fenders.

- Be cautious of hazardous materials: If you have hazardous materials on or near the water, you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take the necessary precautions to secure these materials prior to any foul weather.

- Stay clear of beaches: Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by storms. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Rip currents and undertows can drag swimmers away from their boat or the beach and lead to death by drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted.

Mariners are reminded that drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. They are generally authorized to remain closed up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale force winds of 32 mph or greater and whenever an evacuation is ordered. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closures, mariners should seek early passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds.

Tropical systems are designated by name when they reach tropical storm strength with sustained winds reaching 39 mph. They become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph and become major hurricanes when winds increase to 111 mph.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center's Web page at

Reef Balls Placed in Choptank River Oyster Reef

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Artificial Reef Program joined the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) on August 11 to place 306 oyster spat-laden reef balls on a two-acre site near Cooks Point in the Choptank River.

Volunteers from CBF and the Dorchester County chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association (MSSA) built the reef balls at the Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, Md. and at a private site on the Eastern Shore. West Marine and NOAA provided grant support for building the reef balls and setting the spat.

Reef balls add three-dimensional structure and habitat for aquatic organisms such as mussels, oysters, tunicates, marine worms and myriad other species, which are vital components of the Chesapeake Bay’s food chain.

Once established, striped bass, flounder, croaker, spot, sea bass and other saltwater fish species utilize oyster habitats for food and shelter.

For more information on Maryland’s artificial reef initiative, visit or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s restoration efforts go to

source: MD DNR

2011 American Music Festival

The American Music Festival, the largest outdoor musical event on the East coast, features local, regional and national acts.

Music at the American Music Festival includes rock, jazz, country, blues, R&B and more.

A variety of national acts are scheduled to play, including the Stone Temple Pilots (September 2), ZZ Top (September 3) and Bret Michaels (September 4).

During the festival, musicians perform on a 60-foot wide and 60-foot tall stage on the beach at 5th Street as well as on other stages along the beautiful oceanfront.

The three day American Music Festival will occur on September 2-3-4, 2011.

For more information, visit:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Smart Buoys

A new NOAA "smart buoy" deployed near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel will help boaters and fishermen monitor conditions in the Chesapeake Bay.

The highly sophisticated buoy is the newest addition to NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS), a network of buoys that transmit multi-use oceanographic and meteorological data from the bay to weather forecasters, maritime safety personnel, coastal decision makers, and recreational boaters and fishermen.

Managed by NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, CBIBS buoys collect weather, oceanographic and water-quality observations and transmit this data wirelessly in near-real time.

Data and related educational resources can be accessed at ( for mobile devices) and by toll-free phone at 877-BUOY-BAY (877-286-9229).

The information is also available via free Android and iPhone applications. CBIBS uses new technology to make information available for a broad range of research, commercial, and recreational purposes, including assessing the progress of bay restoration.

The other nine buoys in the network are located at the mouths of the Susquehanna, Patapsco, Severn, Potomac, and Rappahannock Rivers; in the main stem of the bay near Calvert County, Md.; in the Potomac River near Alexandria, Va.; in the James River near Jamestown; and in the Elizabeth River off Norfolk.

source: NOAA

Friday, August 12, 2011

Navy Destroyer Sunk off Mid Atlantic Coast as Reef

The U.S. Navy destroyer ex-USS Arthur W. Radford was recently scuttled off Delaware coast, approximately 26 miles southeast of Indian River Inlet (38* 30.750’N - 074* 30.700’W). The decommissioned warship will now serve as an artificial reef.

The Radford, her hull spanning 563 feet and the longest vessel ever reefed in the Atlantic, was sunk at the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef site. The Del-Jersey-Land reef is a collaborative effort of the three states cited in its name - Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland – and lies equidistant from fishing ports in Indian River (Del.), Cape May (N.J.), and Ocean City (Md.).

After the Navy’s announcement of the Radford’s availability for reefing in January 2008 and a 2½ -year application process, the ship underwent 14 months of preparation by American Marine Group, a Virginia-based marine towing, salvage and reefing contractor.

The company, which has extensive experience reefing ships in the Atlantic, cleaned and prepared the Radford to EPA specifications. Much of her armored hull and other nautical equipment were recycled for reuse.

Funding for the ship’s transportation, cleanup, preparation, sinking and monitoring was shared among the three states and the Navy. Delaware’s portion came from the Sportfish Restoration Program that includes federal excise taxes on fishing and boating equipment in the state.

The destroyer, named for Navy admiral Arthur W. Radford who served as the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was commissioned in 1977 and decommissioned in 2003.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2011 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Assessment

A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientific assessment of the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab stock has been released, setting higher abundance thresholds and crab population targets.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assessment, the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab population indicates significantly more work needs to be done to fully rebuild the stock to sustainable levels.

The study concludes that although the stock has increased substantially in response to three years of rebuilding efforts by Virginia, Maryland and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, the stock was more depleted than originally believed and will take longer to rebuild than had been expected.

The assessment sets a new overfishing threshold as well as a new safe abundance level for female crabs. According to NOAA, the project took three years to complete and represents the best available science on the stock’s reproductive capabilities, lifespan, gender and size distributions.

Until now, fishery managers used an interim target of 200 million total adult crabs in the bay as the threshold of a healthy stock and considered overfishing to occur if 53 percent of adult (age 1+) crabs were harvested in a year. Regulations were established to meet these benchmarks, which were based on 2005 bay-wide crab assessment data.

The new stock assessment sets a new healthy-species abundance level of 215 million female crabs, with overfishing occurring if 34 percent of the female crabs are harvested in a year.

Put into context, this means that fishery managers have only come close to achieving this level of female abundance three times over the past 22 years, in 2010, 1993 and 1991.

These more stringent assessments of the stock’s health will allow fishery managers to set more precise female harvest limits in order to fully rebuild the stock. Virginia, Maryland and the PRFC remain committed to working together to rebuild the bay’s crab population to meet the new female population threshold and abundance target.

In September the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee will meet to consider the new assessment, examine data from the past two years and provide management recommendations to Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission.

The bay-wide crab harvest in 2010 was in the 90 million-pound range, confirming that a healthy harvesting industry can coexist with regulations designed to rebuild a self-sustaining, healthy blue crab population.

Through a historic collaboration in 2008, Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission took strong, coordinated action to reduce harvest pressure on female crabs by 34 percent. At that time, scientists deemed conservation measures necessary as blue crab suffered near historic lows in spawning stock.

Dr. Tom Miller, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, lead author of the stock assessment commented on the assessment, stating: "Overall, crabs in the bay are doing well. Implementing recommendations developed  in the stock assessment, like focusing fishing regulations on female  crabs, will help even more,"

The stock assessment can be viewed in its entirety at:

source: Virginia Marine Resources Commission/Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Fires in Great Dismal Swamp

Two wildfires were burning at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in early August, 2011. The fires were started by recent lightning strikes.

Due to the fire, access to Railroad Ditch Road and trail was disrupted, and bus tours to Lake Drummond were cancelled.

The Refuge was notified of the wildfires around 7:00 p.m. on Thursday August 4, 2011. There are two wildfires, located southwest of Lake Drummond off Interior Ditch Road. As of August 5th, the larger fire (Lateral West) was estimated at 15 acres and the smaller fire (Lateral West 2) was a single tree fire.

Initially, the Refuge had two bulldozers and a helicopter working the fires in an effort to stop the fire's movement and spread rate. Additional resources, including both people and equipment, were expected to arrive to contain the fires.

For up-to-date information on the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge wildfires, visit

Monday, August 8, 2011

Boaters Prepare for Mid Atlantic Hurricanes

With hurricane season bearing down on the Mid Atlantic region, state and federal agencies are warning boaters to be prepared for storms.

When deciding on storm preparation plans, mariners need to consider size, type of boat and location.

Many boat locations may not offer protection from high winds or tides.

Boaters should consider the following when making arrangement for their vessels:

Remove valuable equipment from a boat to protect it from damage.

Consider removing a boat from the water to reduce damage from storm surge.

Boats on land should be properly stored or tied down to prevent being damaged by winds.

Small open boats can be filled with water to lessen the effect of the wind.

Boats remaining in the water should be moored in safe areas or berths. Lines should be doubled and high on pilings.

Boaters should remember that storm surges can cause tides over the pilings.

Install fenders to protect boats from pilings, piers or other vessels.

Ensure bilge pumps work properly and batteries that run the pumps are fully charged.

Seal all openings to make the vessel watertight.

Collect all documents, including insurance policies. Take photographs of boats and equipment for insurance

Do not stay aboard boats during storms. Safeguard human life.

Boaters should take these actions at least 48-72 hours prior to the event to accommodate unforeseen problems. During the storm, occupants should be off the water and in safe shelters.

Storm conditions can delay or prevent response from emergency personnel.

Hurricane Preparedness Links:

source: MD DNR