Florence brings wind, flooding

Published 6:39 pm Thursday, September 13, 2018

Suffolk began to see minor effects of Hurricane Florence as day broke on Thursday and continued to see gray skies, some rain and windy conditions throughout the day.

Although the storm was expected to make landfall about 200 miles to the southwest near the North Carolina/South Carolina border, and although its ferocity had been downgraded to a Category 2 overnight, the large storm still had effects spreading out hundreds of miles from its center. The outer bands were affecting Suffolk Thursday.

National Weather Service Wakefield meteorologist Eswar Iyer said the biggest effect on Suffolk would be tidal flooding.

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“Probably the biggest thing to watch is going to be possible tidal flooding in the most vulnerable areas,” Iyer said.

Iyer said tidal flooding would combine with locally heavy rainfall of 2 to 4 inches in some places during the entirety of the storm.

“While Suffolk itself is not in a tropical storm warning, still expect pretty gusty winds and certainly a few gusts up to 40 miles per hour cannot be ruled out, especially between now and tomorrow,” Iyer said Thursday afternoon.

Iyer said to expect the storm’s largest impacts on Friday through early Saturday, with scattered showers and thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s not going to be catastrophic here, but we’ll see some rain, and there will be some tidal flooding,” Iyer said.

It was a major shift from a week or so ago, when it looked as if Hampton Roads would take a direct punch from a Category 4 hurricane, but Florence’s track had shifted significantly since then, and the storm had weakened.

Even so, power outages are possible, and Dominion Virginia Power was preparing for them with workers already called in from out of state and others from as far away as Wisconsin, Ohio and Texas ready to respond.

At 3:30 p.m. Thursday, only nine Dominion customers in Suffolk were out of power, according to the company’s online outage map, but that was likely to change as winds increased and battered trees in saturated ground.

The utility urged folks to stay at least 30 feet away from downed wires and ensure that family, pets and neighbors also avoid the area. The phone number to report a downed wire is 1-866-DOM-HELP. Employees or contractors will arrive and may mark lines with yellow tape, if it’s a Dominion Energy wire, or orange tape if it’s a communications wire.

Report power outages at 1-866-DOM-HELP or at www.dominionenergy.com/hurricaneprep.

The city of Suffolk announced Thursday that trash pickup would take place as usual on Friday, but TFC Recycling would not do its route and would not reschedule this week’s pickups.

Suffolk Transit operated as normal Thursday, according to a city press release, but a determination on Friday and Saturday remained to be seen.