Hurricane Dorian expected to impact area Thursday, Friday

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Sep 04, 2019 - 01:33 PM

The National Weather Service has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the entire area, as a powerful Hurricane Dorian is expected to make its way up the coast, impacting our area beginning tonight and continuing through the day on Friday. Emergency officials in both counties are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best for the Middle Peninsula.

Brett Major, emergency management coordinator for Gloucester County said, “Hurricane Dorian is a dangerous storm,” adding that risks to this area include possible major storm tides and surge, heavy rain and tropical storm-force winds and strong gusts that could result in downed trees and power outages. 

Gloucester County administrator Brent Fedors told the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors during its meeting Tuesday night that, “The county is ready. We are confident of that.”

“We are going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” board chairman Ashley Chriscoe added.

According to the NWS, Dorian is expected to slowly move northwestward up the East Coast, remaining a dangerous hurricane as it spreads across the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina through late week. By 2 a.m. Friday, the storm is expected to come dangerously close to making landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, and again near Cape Hatteras Friday morning before making its way off the coast.

With the storm remaining so close offshore, the NWS predicts that the risk of wind and rain impacts along portions of the Virginia coast and southern Chesapeake Bay are increasing and suggested residents in these areas closely monitor the progress of Dorian.

“Evacuations, particularly of Zone A, have not been ruled out at this point,” Major added. Zone A evacuations, which include portions of both Gloucester and Mathews, were enacted about this same time last year when Hurricane Florence was approaching the region.

Mathews emergency services coordinator Willie Love said county officials met early Wednesday morning to evaluate options moving forward. At that time, Love said based on the forecasted track of the storm, Mathews will not be opening a shelter and will not be enacting its Emergency Operation Center. “If the forecast changes, we will re-evaluate at that time,” Love said.

Meanwhile, he and other county officials will be monitoring the situation remotely. He said another meeting will be held this morning to see if changes need to be made. 

Love said that county officials also decided not to issue Zone A evacuations. However, he said that doesn’t mean that the Governor’s office might not impose evacuations of those areas as the storm moves closer.

Both county emergency coordinators encouraged residents and businesses to become familiar with their zones by visiting www.vaemergency.gov/hurricane-evacuation-zone-lookup. 

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a State of Emergency  Monday to ensure that localities have the appropriate level of assistance from the state if it is needed and to coordinate the commonwealth’s response to any potential impacts from Dorian. “I encourage Virginians to take all necessary precautions to make sure they are prepared as well,” he said.