Gov. Northam declares state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Florence

Hurricane Florence on Sept. 7, 2018. (WYDaily/Courtesy NOAA)
Hurricane Florence on Sept. 7, 2018. (Southside Daily/Courtesy NOAA)

Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Florence, which is expected to turn into a hurricane by Saturday night or Sunday morning.

While meteorologists are still unsure where Florence will track as it moves closer to the East Coast, Northam declared the state of emergency Saturday afternoon in anticipation of the storm’s possible impacts.

The order from Northam allows the mobilization of resources and helps Virginia aid other states impacted by the storm. The order also mobilizes the Virginia National Guard, the governor said in a news release.

“While the impacts of Tropical Storm Florence to Virginia are still uncertain, forecasts increasingly expect the storm to strengthen into a major hurricane that could seriously affect the East Coast and Virginians,” Northam said in the news release. “Accordingly, I am declaring a state of emergency so that we can begin to prepare state assets, and I encourage Virginians to monitor forecasts and make their own preparations now.”

As of 6 p.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service said Florence is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane. The latest models showe Florence may make landfall between northern Florida and North Carolina.

Given the uncertainty of the current models, the National Weather Service is warning that the exact timing, location and magnitude of the storm’s impacts are still unknown.

“While the track of Tropical Storm Florence is still uncertain, it appears increasingly likely that Virginia may see significant impacts from this storm next week,” the governor’s office said in the news release. “Impacts include possible flooding, high winds, and potential storm surge.”

Because of the uncertainty, the governor’s office also recommends preparing ahead in case the storm does head Virginia’s way.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.