Severe weather forecast for today, tonight

Published 11:24 am Friday, April 19, 2019


Intense weather in Western Tidewater is forecast for today, April 19, by the National Weather Service in Wakefield. This is anticipated in the afternoon and tonight in the form of thunderstorms, significant damaging winds and the possibility of isolated tornadoes. The zone of coverage goes from Northeast North Carolina up through Eastern and Central Virginia and into Southeast Maryland.

As of 11 a.m., the NWS website so far shows the Southwestern portion of Southampton County in the zone of Moderate Risk, with severe storms likely. The remainder is in the Enhanced Risk Zone, with such storms possible.

NWS meteorologist Andrew Zimmerman noted that the city of Franklin is on the border of the two, and added, “It’s not very often that we get moderate risk in this area.”

Further, he said there were showers moving up from the south in the morning, but these were not severe.

“But after 1 to 2 p.m., the potential [for thunderstorms] increases through the evening. There’ll be a round this afternoon and another this evening,” said Zimmerman, who added there’s the possibility of damaging wind gusts and the threat of tornadoes.

Rainfall is expected to about 1 inch to 1-1/4 inches on average, but some places could be a lot higher or even less depending on the severity of the storms.

“There could be hail, but on a lesser scale,” Zimmerman said, “but damaging winds and tornado threats are greater.”

The NWS site adds that today the wind speeds could range from 16 to 22 mph, with gusts up to 34 mph. Tonight, 14 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph.

For Saturday, rain before 8 a.m., then becoming mostly sunny with a high near 70. Winds 13 to 17 mph and gusts as high as 28 mph.

Meanwhile, Dominion Energy wants its customers to prepare for possible power outages because of storms today and this evening.

Jeremy L. Slayton, a spokesman, said, “We’re staffed up and ready to respond. The safety of our customers is always our top priority, especially when storms are in the forecast. Dominion Energy customers in Virginia should prepare for the possibility of power outages beginning Friday night due to the predicted heavy rain and very high winds.”

Slayton also said that personnel are ready to respond quickly and safely should outages occur. For the quickest response, he added, always report the outage on the mobile-friendly site or call 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).

Residents are advised to stay clear of any an all downed power lines.

Assume they are energized and dangerous,” he stated. “Very high winds and rain can cause trees and branches to fall, which may bring down power lines. Stay at least 30 feet away and make sure your family, pets and neighbors also avoid the downed wire.”

Call the same number above to report any downed wires.

Should people have a generator available, they should first ensure it’s fueled, tested and correctly connected before any storms.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and always operate outdoors with good ventilation,” said Slayton. “Improper use of a generator could be life-threatening for customers and for line crews working to restore power.”

The Tidewater News will report on this storm as it develops. Readers are encouraged to notify the paper of any definite sightings of tornadoes, flooding, downed power lines or trees. Contact us at 562-3187 or email editor@tidewaternews or our Facebook page.