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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Florence intensifies, East Coast landfall appears imminent

(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of NOAA)
(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of NOAA)

Update 8 p.m. Sunday: While the impacts of Hurricane Florence along the East Coast are still uncertain, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is warning residents to prepare for the worst.

Throughout the weekend, Virginia Department of Emergency Management teams have worked to prepare for Florence, which strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane Sunday.

The National Weather Service is forecasting what could be “Virginia’s most significant hurricane event in decades,” the governor’s office said in a news release Sunday.

Virginia is in a state of emergency following an order Saturday afternoon by Northam.

Many models for Florence forecast coastal storm surge, catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages, the release said.

Florence could also hit the Carolinas and enter Central Virginia, dropping more than 20 inches of rain in some areas.

Flooding is the biggest threat to the area, not winds, the release said.

Other forecast models show Florence going over Hampton Roads. If circumstances are severe enough, the area will evacuate in phases under the Know Your Zone plan.

Original story:

Florence had re-strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane Sunday as it was located about 710 miles (1,142 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters predicted it would become a dangerous Category 4 storm before a possible landfall Friday.

“The center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the southeastern U.S. coast on Thursday,” the hurricane center said in its 11 a.m. Sunday advisory.

“Do not focus on the exact track because impacts will be felt far away from the center,” the National Weather Service said. “Be sure that you have your hurricane plans in place.”

The Navy is making preparations for its ships in the Hampton Roads.

The U.S. Fleet Forces Command said in a news release Saturday that the ships will get ready in anticipation of getting under way Monday to avoid storm damage.

But plans could change if forecasts indicate a decrease in the strength or change in the track of the storm, according to the news release.

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Saturday night, which allows the mobilization of resources and helps Virginia aid other states impacted by the storm. The order also mobilizes the Virginia National Guard.

The governors of North and South Carolina also declared states of emergency to give them time to prepare.

This is probably a good time to “Know Your Zone.”

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management launched the “Know Your Zone” program in spring 2017 to streamline evacuation efforts in the event of a powerful hurricane passing over Hampton Roads.

Residents of individual zones may be directed by local emergency managers to evacuate along a predetermined path ahead of a storm’s landfall. By knowing one’s zone before a storm approaches, residents can be prepared when the evacuation order is given.

(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of NOAA)
(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of NOAA)

Info from the National Weather Service about hurricane hazards

While hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depression also can be devastating. The primary hazards from tropical cyclones (which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.

  • Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane related deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast.
  • Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers, and estuaries.
  • Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated.
  • Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes. Signs, roofing material, and other items left outside can become flying missiles during hurricanes.
  • Tornadoes can accompany landfalling tropical cyclones. These tornadoes typically occur in rain bands well away from the center of the storm.
  • Dangerous waves produced by a tropical cyclone’s strong winds can pose a significant hazard to coastal residents and mariners. These waves can cause deadly rip currents, significant beach erosion, and damage to structures along the coastline, even when the storm is more than a 1,000 miles offshore.
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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