Hurricane Florence weakens, slows as it hits East Coast

Hurricane Florence remains on track to make landfall in the Carolinas. An updated projection shows the Category 2 storm traveling closer to the Virginia Peninsula early next week after it makes landfall.

Williamsburg, James City and York counties remain under a coastal flood warning until 6 a.m. Sunday. Tropical storm conditions are possible Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm is traveling west-northwest at 5 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour, according to the storm projection released by the National Hurricane Center at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

The storm has weakened and slowed considerably as it has approached the Outer Banks of North Carolina leaving meteorologists concerned the storm will stall over the Carolinas before turning northward.

However, the storm could remain at a similar strength for several days as Florence circulates over warm and deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulfstream, according to the National Hurricane Center.

State officials have opened an emergency shelter at the William and Mary’s McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center, which is located at 705 S. Henry St, according to a tweet by the City of Williamsburg. For more information, call 211.

James City officials continue to monitor the storm and the county’s emergency operations center is partially activated, according to a county news release Thursday morning.

Jolly Pond Road at the dam is closed to traffic. Electric service along the bulkhead/shoreline at James City County Marina has been disconnected and will remain disconnected until Monday. During this time fuel and electrical outlets won’t be available to boaters, according to a county news release.

Due to the storm, Busch Gardens will be closed Saturday. The park expects to reopen 10 a.m. Sunday, according to a tweet by Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s public relations account Thursday morning.

8 a.m. Thursday

Hurricane Florence has be downgraded to a Category 2 storm as it nears the North Carolina coast, according to a National Weather Service briefing.

Williamsburg, James City and York are under a coastal flood warning until 6 a.m. Sunday. Tropical storm conditions are possible locally beginning Thursday night, according to a 7:54 a.m. National Weather Service forecast

The storm has maximum winds of 110 miles per hour and is moving north west at 15 miles per hour. The storm is expected to slow down as it makes its way to land, and its expected landfall is early Friday. The current forecast calls for 2-3 inches of rain in the Williamsburg area, according to a 6 a.m. National Weather Service briefing.

1 p.m. Thursday

Despite the shift in the storm Dominion Energy announced they would not change their storm preparation plans.

Dominion said because the storm is so large, and the ground in the areas is already very wet, the potential for significant damage is still a threat.

“The safety of our customers and employees is paramount,” the statement said.

2 p.m. Thursday

The storm winds approached the coast of North Carolin as of 2 p.m., however, the Hurricane still remains out at sea. It is predicted to reach the coast of the state at 8 a.m. on Friday.

4 p.m. Thursday

At 4 p.m. the NHC released a statement saying water levels were rising in parts of North Carolina. A Nation Weather Service observing site at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, recently reported a sustained wind of 68 mph with a gust to 85 mph.

Williamsburg’s government also sent out a news release saying even though the storm is predicted to move southward, hurricanes are highly unpredictable.

The release encouraged residents to monitor the weather forecasts and added the Williamsburg area should begin to experience increased wind and rain late Thursday night through Saturday.

5 p.m.

The NHC put out a tropical storm warning for Virginia up to Cape Horn Light. Southwest Virginia is predicted to get 6-12 inches of rain, with life-threatening flash flooding.

This story will be updated as more information is made available.

How to avoid construction schemes after Florence

Don't get ripped off by door-to-door contractors who litter your stoop with pamphlets. Get educated with these tips from the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations.

Only deal with licensed contractors who meet state requirements for expertise and performance.

Check a contractor's license status by calling the Contractors Board at 804-367-8511.

Friends and neighbors have likely dealt with contractors before, it's better to ask them for a referral than Facebook groups.

Get an estimate - ask a contractor for a written estimate before any work begins, and the lowest bidder isn't always the contractor you'll want to do work with.

Get a detailed contract with an agreed upon start time and end time for the work.

Limit your down payment - reputable contractors won't ask for 100 percent of the down payment.

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