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UPDATE Sept. 13, 2018 - Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 storm; however, it remains a very large storm whose effects will be felt for a 200-mile radius of the center.
Hampton is now under a tropical storm warning. That means we could feel tropical-force winds, between 39-74 mph. Those winds are a top concern, as falling trees can block roads and take out electricity.
High tides in Hampton will be elevated beginning today about noon. Today, the high tides at Sewell's Point are projected to hit 5 feet and grow to 6 feet on Friday. That will likely flood some roads and neighborhoods, but is considered minor to moderate. That's roughly equivalent to the levels of 2016's Matthew or Hermine, but remain below the major flooding mark. However, the timing of rains and the path of the storm can still change, and residents should be vigilant.
Landfall is expected about 2 a.m. Friday in southeast North Carolina.
Hampton's two shelters are hosting about 100 people and 13 animals. They are open for additional people. The state has also opened shelters at Christopher Newport College and the College of William and Mary.
Sept. 12, 2018 - Hurricane Florence's movement toward land has slowed, with landfall now projected for Saturday morning in North Carolina. Although the path is tracking to the south, Hampton is expected to see strong winds, heavy rainfall and tidal flooding.
Florence has been downgraded to a still-powerful Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph, just below Category 4, as of Wednesday afternoon. If Florence stalls after landfall, as predicted, Hampton Roads could be hit by significant rainfall of 4-8 inches. Based on the latest forecast, tropical storm force winds could hit Hampton by Thursday evening. Sustained winds of 25-30 mph and gusts of 45-50 mph are predicted by Friday.
Because of recent rains, the ground is already saturated. Officials warn that winds may knock down trees, blocking roads and taking out power lines. Residents should be prepared to be without power for a period of time.
Southeastern Virginia is under a storm surge watch. High tides at Sewell's Point by Friday are expected to cause minor flooding, similar to last weekend's high tides. By Saturday, high tides are projected to be 6 feet, which is considered "moderate" flooding levels.
Heavy rains can also create flooding in other areas and, depending on timing, can push tides higher.
Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the evacuation of Zone A, the lowest-lying areas of Hampton (and other coastal cities), on Monday. Residents who don't know the zone they live in can search their address at http://bit.ly/knowyourzoneva or call 311 (727-8311).
Hampton has opened a storm shelter at Phenix School, 1061 Big Bethel Road, for the general population, as well as those with medical needs. Residents with pets can go to a second shelter at Bethel High School, 1067 Big Bethel Road. That shelter has room for 150 animals, depending upon their size. Owners should bring crates, food and bedding for their pets. Residents do not register ahead of time; they sign in when they arrive. People who need transportation, especially those with medical needs, should call 727-8311. They are urged to do that before high winds and flooding make transportation more difficult and more uncomfortable.
Shelters: Check https://hampton.gov/shelters for updates on shelters.
Closings: Check hampton.gov/closings for a frequently updated list of the status of offices, facilities and events.
FAQs: Check hampton.gov/florencefaq for frequently asked questions and answers.
Solid waste collection in Hampton has been suspended for Thursday and Friday. It is hazardous for crews to attempt to collect trash in high winds, and the trash can blow out of control during collection. Residents should not take their containers or bulk trash to the curb, where high winds would likely cause them to blow over. Any trash containers left at the curb should be removed. Also, bulk trash or yard waste should not be at the curb; it can be carried into storm drains by flooding, making neighborhood flooding much worse.
Tips on generator and chain saw use can be found at: https://hampton.gov/1682/After-a-disaster
Emergency declarations: Tuesday afternoon, President Trump declared an emergency for Virginia, ordering federal assistance to aid response efforts. He had already declared an emergency for North and South Carolina. Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency late Saturday, and City Manager Mary Bunting declared a local emergency Monday at 2 p.m. Those legal declarations allow the governments to mobilize extra resources and make emergency purchases.
The weather service, and Hampton's Office of Emergency Management, urges everyone to review their hurricane plans and to check their disaster supplies. State and local emergency management officials urge residents to:
You can go online to learn about creating a disaster supply kit and hurricane preparedness. City officials will continue monitoring the storm through the weekend and into next week.