NWS: Eastern Virginia put under tornado watch as severe thunderstorms expected

Staff writer

Wind gusts? Hail? Lightning? Tornadoes? They’re all expected Friday afternoon into Saturday morning across Virginia, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service have issued a severe weather outlook for southern and eastern Virginia warning that areas from Richmond and Wakefield to the Blue Ridge Mountains are expected to see numerous severe thunderstorms.

While the Peninsula and Williamsburg were previously in the crosshairs of the storm, forecasters have lowered their expectations for the area on the severity and number of severe thunderstorms.

Forecasters have, however, put huge swathes of Virginia under a tornado watch, including the Williamsburg area. The watch will be in effect until midnight.

It’ll be breezy before the storm arrives, National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Zimmerman said. “It looks like as we get into the day tomorrow, it’s going to get breezy.”

Sustained winds ahead of the storm will be about 15 miles per hour with wind gusts around 35 miles per hour, Zimmerman said. That’ll end as the storms begin to roll through in the late afternoon and strengthen into Friday night.

Forecasters predict heavy rains, large hail and the potential for a handful of tornadoes across southern Virginia, according to the National Weather Service. Williamsburg’s at a lesser risk for the destructive storms.

Zimmerman said the area should expect a little more than an inch of rain. The region has been put under a flash flood watch until 4 a.m. on April 20.

The main threat from the storm will be the strong wind gusts, Zimmerman said. One of the criteria of a severe storm is wind gusts faster than 58 mph, and that’s in the forecast already.

Wind gusts stronger than 60 miles per hour are expected and could cause trees to fall on power lines leading to power outages, according to the forecast.

The Williamsburg Area Transit Authority has warned bus routes and service may be impacted by the storm. For more information go to gowata.org or send a text message to 41411 and type “gowata” followed by the bus stop number.

To report or check on a power outage, go to www.dominionenergy.com/outage-center/report-and-check-outages

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at srobertsjr@vagazette.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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