Blackwater likely to flood

Published 12:22 pm Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chris Thomas, a patrolman with the Franklin City Police, directs traffic at the intersection of Armory and College drives on Friday. -- Charlie Passut | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield said he expected the Blackwater River in Franklin to rise above flood stage by Friday night.

However, only minor flooding is expected, meteorologist James Foster said.

At 9:45 p.m. Friday, the Blackwater measured 11.96 feet at the Franklin gauge, just shy of flood stage, which is 12 feet.

The National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service forecasted a crest of 14.7 feet at 8 p.m. Sunday.

The river reached a record high of 26.4 feet in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in September 1999.

In matters related to the 14 inches of rain that fell in Western Tidewater between Tuesday and Friday, one of two closed westbound lanes of the U.S. Route 58 Bypass reopened at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The closing of both lanes and one eastbound lane seven hours earlier was due to high water at the Delaware Road overpass. The closure resulted in traffic being detoured through Franklin Friday.

“It was a nightmare,” Franklin Police Lt. Tim Whitt said. “We used a lot of our force for directing traffic.”

The detour took motorists up Armory Drive to College Drive, Business Route 58 West and to 58 West. Motorists traveling eastbound from Emporia took Business Route 58 East to College Drive, Armory Drive and Route 58 East.

Virginia State Police and Virginia Department of Transportation personnel will remain at the 58 Bypass location monitoring road conditions until all water has receded and the lanes are safe to open. It was anticipated that Route 58 in Franklin would completely reopen by Saturday morning.

Secondary road conditions have also improved, VDOT officials said. Motorists should be alert for debris on the roadway caused by the receding water levels.

The Nottoway River near Sebrell is expected to rise to 18 feet over the weekend, or at moderate flood stage, and stay above the flood stage into next week.

At 9:15 p.m. Friday, the river was at 14.56 feet.

“If water runs out of the river banks and any surrounding area, people will have to take precautions,” Foster said.