Matthew changes track

Published 10:13 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2016

With a dramatic change in its forecast track, Hurricane Matthew no longer appears to pose much of a threat to Hampton Roads.

However, it could still be too soon to tell the long-range forecast of the storm, Suffolk Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Brian Spicer said Wednesday.

“It’s not entirely impossible we might see this thing make a loop,” Spicer said in a presentation to City Council during its work session. “We’ll see what we wake up to tomorrow.”

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Spicer referred to the dire predictions of meteorologists who earlier in the week said the storm could be worse than Floyd or Isabel, the storms that struck this area in 1999 and 2003, respectively, and are among the worst many remember.

But when Wednesday morning’s update from the National Hurricane Center was released, it seemed Hurricane Matthew was preparing to take a turn east and then south again, taking it away from Virginia.

“Any impacts we see from it are going to be relatively low,” Spicer said. There could be a small amount of rain and breezes, and minor tidal flooding already affecting Suffolk could continue. A coastal flood advisory is in effect for the city until at least Thursday evening. Two lanes of North Main Street near the Kimberly Bridge were closed for part of Wednesday after being inundated with water.

Despite the apparent dodged bullet, Spicer said it never hurts to underscore how important it is to be prepared, both individually and as a city.

“Regardless how the weekend shapes up or any storm in the future, we are fully prepared,” City Manager Patrick Roberts said.

The Peanut Festival is on as scheduled Thursday through Sunday. The Virginia Festival of Flight, which was to have occurred in conjunction with the Peanut Fest on Saturday, has been canceled due to the concern for aviators traveling to the festival in high winds.

“In the coming weeks, the Virginia Aviation Council will discuss any future festival dates and announce accordingly,” stated a press release Wednesday from the Peanut Fest.