Governor McDonnell Updates Commonwealth's Preparations in Advance of Hurricane Earl
– Latest Models Continue to Show Track Well East of Commonwealth –
Based on Path, Minor Impacts Anticipated; System to be Past Area by Holiday Weekend
RICHMOND – Following a visit to Virginia's Emergency Operations Center in Midlothian, Governor Bob McDonnell today highlighted the precautionary preparations being taken by state agencies and officials ahead of Hurricane Earl. The tropical system, currently located roughly 230 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, continues on a northward trajectory at 18mph and has been downgraded to a still powerful Category 3 storm as of the 2pm update from the National Hurricane Center. Based on the present speed of the storm, the system should pass well to the east of the Commonwealth during the day on Friday. The governor declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Virginia yesterday, a proactive step authorizing state agencies to take precautionary actions to prepare for any potential impacts in eastern Virginia from Hurricane Earl. A state of emergency must be declared under state law so that additional resources are available and positioned for use if necessary.
Speaking about Virginia's state of preparedness, Governor McDonnell noted, "As predicted by forecast models, Hurricane Earl is now moving due north. This is good news for the Commonwealth. However, the storm is still several hundred miles away, and a slight shift to the west would have a significant impact on weather conditions in the state, particularly in our coastal areas. For that reason it is imperative that all state agencies and residents continue to monitor this storm closely over the next 24 hours. Residents in the Hampton Roads area in particular should pay close attention to local emergency authorities and news reports. While we do not expect a major impact in Virginia, we have prepositioned assets as a precautionary measure. Our state agencies are coordinated and prepared to respond to any developments that may take place over the next 24 hours"
Virginia's coastal areas remain under a Hurricane Watch. Residents in Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore could see tropical storm force winds with gusts up to 50 mph, beginning tonight and continuing through tomorrow morning. With the current forecast path, there is a high risk for strong rip currents, with waves 8-12 feet at the coast and 15-20 feet offshore. Rainfall of 1 inch or less is expected at the coast. Tides are expected to be 1-4 feet above normal, with a risk of localized moderate flooding, but less than what Hampton Roads experienced during the November Nor'easter. The storm will be well north of the area by later in the day Friday, and the forecast for the holiday weekend is for sunny skies with seasonable temperatures throughout the Commonwealth.
Some actions currently underway at the state level include:
- The Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Richmond is at "response operations" and is coordinating the state's preparation for the storm. Staffing has been increased on a 24-hour basis.
- The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is making sure storm drains are clear in the Hampton Roads region.
- VDOT has prepositioned resources and performed a successful test of the Midtown Tunnel floodgates last night.
- The Virginia National Guard is preparing 200 soldiers for possible post-storm response in the Hampton Roads region, moving personnel, vehicles and equipment in Hampton and Norfolk to support missions such as high-water transport and light debris removal.
- The Virginia Department of State Police is sending additional troopers into the Hampton Roads region. VSP is also prepositioning swift-water rescue teams in the Hampton Roads region and Richmond areas.
- The Virginia Department of Social Services and Virginia Department of Health are on standby and prepared to open state-managed shelters if those are necessary. Medical facilities are on standby.
- The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is ready to provide sheltering for pets if necessary.
- Volunteer agencies are preparing resources for response operations if needed, including trucks, equipment trailers, volunteers, fuel, food and water.
More information about hurricane preparedness is available at www.ReadyVirginia.gov and www.ListoVirginia.gov. Virginians should call their local emergency manager for specific information about their area; a list of local emergency managers is available at http://www.vaemergency.com/library/directories/index.cfm. General information about the storm and state's efforts to prepare is available by dialing 2-1-1. Online videos that explain storm surge and evacuation routes are at http://www.youtube.com/vaemergency (captions are available).
# # #