Hurricane expert: Jerry Stenger’s Florence predictions

Jerry Stenger is always popular during natural disasters.
Photo Fariss Samarrai Jerry Stenger is always popular during natural disasters. Photo Fariss Samarrai

When there’s a weather disaster in the forecast, Jerry Stenger is on everyone’s speed dial. We didn’t catch up with the director of the State Climatology Office at UVA until yesterday afternoon, and even though Hurricane Florence has shifted south, here are his predictions for the storm—and tips on what to eat.

“For us, the big problem is the massive amount of rainfall and wind,” says Stenger. “Florence could dump a foot of rain on already saturated ground. We’re going to have trees down all over the place.”

That means that parts of the state—like here—could be without electricity “much like 2003 with Isabel, which caused a huge outage.” His mother, who lives in Richmond, was without power for two weeks, he says, an unpleasant situation experienced by many in Albemarle County.

“I fear there could be a prolonged period without power,” says Stenger, who notes that power company crews are going to be working from South Carolina first and then heading north.

The heavy rain can lead to flash flooding and urban flooding with backed up storm drains. “The storm is forecast to slow down as it hits landfall, which will exacerbate” the situation, he says.

Virginia will catch the northeast quadrant of the storm, which will start expanding once it hits land and pile the water up. “This is not good,” he says.

So what does a hurricane expert do to get ready for a monster storm?

“I bought these packages of Indian food that keep without refrigeration and don’t need to be heated up,” says Stenger.

And because he’s on a well, “I’m filling every container with water that I have.” Stenger is also filling gas cans, because with widespread electricity outages, service stations can’t pump gas.