Please take a moment to review the latest brief from the National Weather Service with the bulleted highlights below:
- A tropical storm watch is now in effect for parts of Hampton Roads.
- A storm surge warning is now in effect for areas near the western Albemarle Sound.
- A hurricane watch and storm surge watch remain in effect for the VA/NC Border south to Duck
- Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday night into Friday morning as a dangerous hurricane.
- Winds up to tropical storm force are expected close to the coast south of Cape Charles, and in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Tropical storm force winds may extend well inland.
- As it makes landfall, the storm will slow down allowing for heavy rainfall to persist through the weekend.
- Dangerous flooding is possible especially south of I-64.
- With the heavy rainfall, and moderate to strong winds, downed trees are likely.
- Storm surge flooding is expected across much of the region Friday into Saturday, with locally major impacts especially near Albemarle Sound and in the lower Chesapeake Bay.
I’d like to add the following: when viewing the Situational Overview on page 4, keep in mind while the cone no longer touches Norfolk, it is called the “cone of uncertainty” and reflects the 2/3 chance of where THE EYE of the storm will go. In other words, the eye has a 1/3 chance of going OUTSIDE the cone. Additionally, the cone does not show wind fields or impacts – see slide 6 which shows a 60% chance of experiencing tropical storm-force winds around Thursday morning. Not in any way trying to be a fear monger; I’m wanting to make certain we all know what we’re looking at, how to understand it, and how the slightest tick upward can have a significant impact on our area.
Let's also look at the Hourly Graphs. The graph reflecting Wednesday and most of Thursday shows the beginning of the storm impact. Sustained winds starting to increase and gusts nearing 30mph starting in the afternoon. Simultaneously, chance of rain increases Thursday morning reaching 50% by 8am and increases to 62% around 2pm. The graph reflecting Friday and Saturday shows the continuation of intensity. Winds appear to peak early Thursday morning with sustained winds nearing Tropical Storm range (39mph) and gusts around 50mph. This is certainly preferable to any category hurricane; however, it is also enough to cause some downed trees (and power lines as a result) with such saturated ground.
Lastly, as we discuss various shift changes (shelters and otherwise), it is important to consider the timing of the tides. Similar to the timing of the winds and rain, coastal flooding causing nuisance flooding should be expected over the next few high tides, but Thursday’s 12:38pm and Friday’s 12:58am reach the minor flood range and Friday’s 1:22pm high tide reaching 5.7’ moderate flooding. Remember – high tides build slowly, so expect flooding both a couple hours before and after the peak! While about 1’ lower than Hurricane Sandy, this will still result in the closing of flood gates. Dr. Loftis – We would love to see any analysis you’d be willing to provide reflecting these tide levels combined with the anticipated rainfall :-) Conversely, Thursday’s LOW tides are 12:34am and 12:37pm and Friday’s is 1:31am and 1:39pm. Will await data for levels past Friday afternoon’s high. In the meantime, messaging must continue to be “DO NOT DRIVE IN FLOOD WATERS” and “DO NOT PLAY IN FLOOD WATERS.” We can have a discussion later on about vehicle damage due to flooding and Leptospirosis.
Thank you to everyone for your hard work and collaboration so far! Please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments or concerns.
Director, Norfolk EOC