Mandatory evacuation of Virginia coast lifted as Hurricane Florence tracks away from region

Gov. Ralph Northam has lifted the mandatory evacuation of residents in Zone A he ordered in response to Hurricane Florence.

“The imminent threat of coastal flooding and high winds have passed for our coastal communities as Hurricane Florence has made landfall in the Carolinas and we believe it is safe for Virginians to begin returning home,” Northam said in a statement released Friday morning.

In the Williamsburg area, only Jamestown Island is in Zone A. The announcement came as the National Weather Service discontinued its tropical storm warning for areas north of Duck, N.C.

Heavy rain is still in the forecast for the Williamsburg area Friday and Saturday, according to an 11 a.m. National Weather Service forecast. Coastal flood warnings are in effect in Williamsburg, James City and York until 6 a.m. Sunday.

As Hurricane Florence hangs over North Carolina’s southern coast, Dominion Energy is responding to power failures in southeastern Virginia and North Carolina Friday morning.

There aren’t widespread power failures in the Williamsburg area, according to the energy company’s online outage map.

But rainfall that preceded the storm has created the right conditions across the region for the storm’s high winds to topple trees that could cut power lines.

“We encourage customers to continue preparing for the possibility of power outages,” Dominion spokeswoman Bonita Harris wrote in an email. “Slow-moving Hurricane Florence is bringing heavy rain, damaging wind and flash flooding in areas that have already experienced high rainfall this season. Ground saturation can increase the likelihood of fallen trees and downed wires.”

The storm’s maximum sustained winds are near 80 miles per hour. The storm is expected to weaken Friday. Further weakening is expected over the weekend into early next week, according to an 11 a.m. National Weather Service release.

Hurricane-force winds extend up to 70 miles from the storm center. Tropical storm force winds extend up to 195 miles from the center, according the the National Weather Service release.

Customers can report power failures by calling 1-866-DOM-HELP or

7 a.m. Friday

The Williamsburg area is looking at a forecast of heavy rain due to Hurriance Florence as the storm bears down on the Carolinas Friday. It’s possible the local area will see coastal flooding.

Williamsburg, James City and York are under a coastal flood warning until 6 a.m. Sunday, according to a National Weather Service forecast.

Hurricane Florence, now a Category 1 storm, made landfall in the Carolinas. The storm has maximum winds of 90 miles per hour and is traveling west, northwest at 6 miles per hour, according to a National Weather Service briefing published around 5:30 a.m. Friday.

Heavy rains are expected Friday through the weekend in the Williamsburg area, according to a National Weather Service forecast as of 3:35 a.m. Friday.

Tornadoes and waterspouts are possible in the forecast area Friday into Saturday, according to the National Weather Service briefing. The Williamsburg area could see rainfall of about 2 inches.

Williamsburg-James City County Schools and York County Schools are closed Friday,

Local officials continue to monitor the storm. The state is operating an emergency shelter at William and Mary’s McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center at 705 S. Henry St. For more information, call 211, according to a city news release.

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

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette