National Weather Service explains error on Lynchburg dam warning

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 7:01 PM EST
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Early Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning, saying there was “imminent failure” of Lynchburg’s College Lake Dam.

City officials then stepped in to say the notice was not correct.

The National Weather Service then changed their warning from “imminent failure” to “potential failure.”

They said the reason behind the mistake was emergency action plan documents.

Those documents - which the National Weather Service told WDBJ7 are not publicly available - outline what warnings should be sent out.

They said after touching base with city officials, the warning was changed to accurately reflect what crews were seeing.

“We later learned that the message in the warning was not what the City of Lynchburg wanted communicated, so, working together as we’ve always done in the past, we made sure that was corrected to send out," said Phil Hysell, National Weather Service Blacksburg warning coordination meteorologist.

Lynchburg Water Resources says the dam is in phase two of a watch, which means they’re keeping a close eye on the dam.

“We’re expecting maybe one to two more inches today but that won’t put us in any danger of going into phase three, which is when we would actually be considering evacuation notices and things like that," said Jerry Griffin, Lynchburg Water Resources public relations specialist.

Lynchburg can expect to see one to two more inches of rain through Thursday.

City officials will continue to keep a close watch on College Lake Dam.

They say the integrity of the structure is not compromised at this time.

A virtual town hall is planned for Thursday to discuss the removal of College Lake Dam.

The public is invited to learn more about the project and ask questions.

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