An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

October 5, 2015

Water World

     The past few weeks around here have been strange, weather-wise. We have gotten stuck in a pattern that has included, sunless skies, strong winds, periods of heavy rain, and most significant for us, very high tides. The higher tides are due to a combination of last week's supermoon, strong winds, and to some extent Hurricane Joaquin. Here in Norfolk there are other issues as well. Most of our rivers drain north into the Chesapeake Bay, and the strong northeasterly winds keep the water backed up preventing a full tidal flush, so the high tides pile up on top of each other. Add to that Norfolk's topography is nearly flat, and most of the city sits only a few feet above sea level. Many parts of area are built on former wetlands, or even filled-in waterways, and if conditions are right, the sea is quick to reassert its original property rights. Perhaps the biggest issue, long-term, is that Norfolk is sinking, while sea level is rising. This sinkage is due to glacial subsidence, a souvenir from the last ice age. The extreme weight of glaciers that once covered much of the northeast caused land there to sink, while the land bulged upward in ice-free areas like southeastern Virginia. Think of this as a very slow, giant seesaw that is still seeking equilibrium. This puts Norfolk right behind New Orleans on the list of American cities most threatened by sea level rise, but you won't see that printed on any real estate flyers.

     Most of the following photos were taken around my neighborhood over the past few days, and the rest were taken at the oceanfront in nearby Virginia Beach.
Mayflower and Newport (2)

Delaware Ave

Children at Play

Red-Headed Fisherwoman

Three Photographers, Two Ducks

Kayaking on New Hampshire (1)

Kayaking on New Hampshire (3)

Waterfront Property For Sale

Water Logged Peach Trees

Virginia Beach, North End (7)

Virginia Beach, North End (3)

Virginia Beach, North End (5)

Lafayette 10-3-2015

     As bad is this flooding looks, most people here are use to it, which is good, because it is likely to become the new normal, and compared to what is happening in South Carolina, we should consider ourselves blessed.


  1. Oh dear. I'm so sorry. Sounds like you have a long-term problem there.

  2. Great shots! We were stranded (both ends of the street flooded) so it is great to see what was happening all around us through your lens! You'd think people would know to move their cars off the streets in the flood zones by now.

  3. Wow--too much water. Sorry. I do hope it begins to recede soon. That sunset is spectacular!

  4. Good thing a lot of residents have kayaks. Thinking of everyone where the tide is too high, and the rains to numerous. ~~Dee

  5. Ugh, those are quite the shocking photos Les. Your house and garden are okay I hope?

  6. Used to it, yes, but the afterward is the pits. Mold remediation, contractors, lack of electricity, and the big one- dealing with the insurance companies. Hope your house was fine.

  7. 3 photographes, 2 ducks... its good you keep a sense of humor about this. Kayaks are definitely the best way to get around. Would the peach trees survive such an assault?

  8. Oh wow Les. I guess when homes are under threat, gardens matter much less. The photos are lovely and tell your story. The video is marvellous and conveys the force of the winds ... I saw foam like that once here in an awful storm ... hope things dry out soon.

  9. Hope the water has receded by now and that that was 2015's last hurricane/superstorm.

  10. Wow. I had no idea that Norfolk was so low-lying. Nice weather for ducks and kayakers, but rather scary and inconvenient for your average home owner. Are there good flood defense plans in place?

  11. That doesn't look like much fun at all! So, what you're saying is that if a property in Norfolk has "irrigation system" listed in the ad, one should think twice?