Irma impacts still unknown for Williamsburg region

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

The Williamsburg area received rain Wednesday, but it is not a byproduct of Hurricane Irma, which is bearing down on Florida with sustained winds of more than 180 mph as a Category 5 storm.

Still, Mike Dutter, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Wakefield, told the Daily Press that the Hampton Roads region should “dust off your hurricane plans … and be prepared, just in case.”

Irma is still at least several days away from having any possible impact on the Mid-Atlantic and Williamsburg regions, though local officials are still asking residents to pay attention.

With the Category 5 storm nearing Puerto Rico, two members of the York County Department of Fire and Life Safety — Capt. Reggie Rivera and Lt. Rob Moore — have arrived on the island safely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, Virginia Task Force 2, according to York County Department of Fire and Life Safety post on its Facebook page.

Virginia Task Force 2, made up of first responders from York County, Williamsburg and James City County, as well as Virginia Beach, Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Franklin, Portsmouth, Hampton, the Navy and Henrico County, had just returned to Virginia Beach Tuesday evening from Katy, Texas to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, according to a posting on its Facebook page.

The team was activated in response to Irma’s impact in Puerto Rico.

In a post on York County’s official Facebook page, the county cautions against waiting until the last minute to make necessary preparations.

“It’s still too early to know where this powerful storm will go,” the post says, “But it is imperative that you stay up-to-date on the storm’s track and be prepared in the event Irma impacts our area.”

Irma, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, is expected to move over parts of the Virgin Islands by late Wednesday afternoon and pass near or slightly north of Puerto Rico Wednesday afternoon or Wednesday night.

The National Weather Service said to expect some fluctuations in Irma’s intensity over the next two days, but it will still remain a powerful Category 4 or 5 hurricane.

Irma is one of three Atlantic hurricanes, along with Jose — east of Irma — and Katie, located just off the eastern coast of Mexico.

In James City County, residents can sign up for JCC Alerts, which will text or email messages on severe weather.

For Wednesday, the National Weather Service forecast widespread showers and isolated to scattered thunderstorms in the Williamsburg region, with locally heavy rain possible and a high of 79 degrees. It said Wednesday’s thunderstorms could come with gusty winds.

Rainfall amounts of between a half to three quarters of an inch are possible today, and another quarter to half-inch of rain is possible tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service forecast for the next several days calls for partly to mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid-70s, with lows in the upper 50s. The next chance of rain comes Monday night and Tuesday.

Information:

Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide (Virginia Department of Transportation)

Know Your Zone (Virginia Department of Emergency Management)

Hurricane Safety Tips and Resources (National Weather Service)

JCC Alerts (James City County)

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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