City, county officials monitoring Hurricane Michael as it nears Florida

srobertsjr@vagazette.com

Update 10:30 a.m. Wednesday: Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a Category 4 storm as it lashes the Florida panhandle on Wednesday.

The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday the storm has followed projected forecasts so far. The storm is expected to reach the Virginia-North Carolina border late Thursday night.

A storm sweeping eastward across the midwestern United States could cause Hampton Roads to receive as much as 6 inches of rain through Friday afternoon, according to National Weather Service Wakefield meteorologist-in-charge Jeff Orrock.

Original story: It might not be the best time to bring your lawn furniture back from the shed after Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Michael, upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane late Tuesday afternoon, is now a major hurricane as it nears the Florida panhandle, according to the National Weather Service. The storm left at least nine people dead in the Caribbean,

Officials in Williamsburg, James City and York counties are all keeping an eye on the storm.

On Tuesday afternoon, the forecasted track of the storm shows the hurricane will cut through the northeastern Gulf Coast up the eastern Appalachian mountains and through Southside Virginia, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As the storm moves northeast, it is likely to weaken significantly, but the National Weather Service has forecasted between 4-6 inches of rain for Greater Williamsburg and Hampton Roads, according to National Weather Service Wakefield meteorologist-in-charge Jeff Orrock.

The area is at a moderate risk of excessive rain, Orrock said in a briefing, and the heaviest rainfalls are expected to fall just north of the storm.

As early as 8 a.m. Thursday, Williamsburg could see tropical storm force winds of at least 39 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

There’s a chance the storm will bring wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. Friday morning, Orrock said. That could make the Friday morning commute messy and cause power outages.

Southside Virginia could see even more rain, with as much as 6 inches forecasted in isolated areas from Thursday night into Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

City and county officials are monitoring the hurricane’s projected path, according to City of Williamsburg spokeswoman Lee Ann Hartmann, York County Emergency Manager Stephen Kopczynski and James City County spokeswoman Renee Dallman.

“The city continues to monitor the storm and will provide updates this week as warranted,” Hartmann said. “Public works crews will be checking drainage ditches and general conditions around the city. Weather conditions can change greatly between today and the weekend so it’s best for residents to use this time to restock emergency kits, review family emergency plans and stay informed.”

More information

Monitor the storm at the National Hurricane Center’s website at nhc.noaa.gov.

Always prepared

Do what you can to be ready just in case. Here are some tips from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management — and some of our own — on how to best prepare for an extreme-weather event:

  • Stock up: purchase bottled water, no-cook meals and food, pet food, batteries, flashlights and candles. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management recommends folks have at least three days of supplies on hand at all times.
  • Charge all phones and electronics ahead of time. It is also a good idea to buy and charge up an external battery.
  • Don’t fumble around in the dark, keep emergency supplies handy or in a central location in your home.
  • Fill up a cooler with ice so if your power goes out you can make sure your perishable goods, like meat, don’t go bad during the outage. Fill your freezer with ice to keep frozen goods frozen longer if the power goes out.
  • Keep at least one week of medications and prescriptions on hand at all times, and keep your medical equipment and first aid kits handy.
  • Wear sturdy shoes when venturing outside after the storm.
  • Write down important phone numbers, addresses and email addresses and keep copies of them on hand.
  • Clean up your yard before the storm — anything that the wind can blow around can cause damage to your home or your car.
  • Clean your gutters — you want to keep as much water as far away from your foundation as possible.
  • Make sure to bring in anything that could collect water during the storm. After the sky clears, still water becomes the perfect spot for mosquito eggs.
  • If you live outside the primary service area of your locality on a well-water system, fill your bathtub or several buckets with water to make sure you can flush your toilet if the power goes out.

Amelia Heymann contributed reporting to this story.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329 or on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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