High winds from offshore system wreaking havoc regionwide

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A major system moving offshore has brought dangerous high winds to the region and a risk for nuisance tidal flooding.

The winds have led to several major accidents, including one in which an oak tree landed on a truck in James City County, killing a man and seriously injuring another. A coastal flood warning was issued for early Saturday morning through Sunday evening for much of Southside Hampton Roads.

As the winds increased, there were reports of power outages, damage and trees fallen on homes. Newport News dispatch noted early Friday that several lines were down. One power line at 19th Street and Park Avenue was reported as being on fire. Chief Meteorologist Don Slater says dry air and high winds dramatically increase the risk of fires breaking out in the area.
Several trees fell on homes and apartments between the Peninsula and Southside. The York- Poquoson Sheriff’s Office told 10 On Your Side’s Joe Fisher 10 trees were knocked down — mostly onto roads — on Friday morning because of the high winds.

To the west in Chester, Virginia, a 6-year-old boy died after a tree fell onto his family’s home early Friday morning.

Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency due to the storm on Friday.

The Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suffolk is closed to foot and vehicle traffic because of the number of downed trees, according to Cemetery Superintendent Sheril Davenport. It is expected to reopen on Wednesday.

Thousands of outages were reported across the region Friday, with a handful of area schools deciding to dismiss students early.

By Saturday morning, Dominion says they restored 88 percent of the nearly 78,000 customers that lost power in the Hampton Roads and Tidewater area. The majority of their North Carolina customers have power restored as well. They expect all customers to have power back by Tuesday.

Locally, winds were gusting out of the west-northwest. Gusts were reported as high as 70 mph on Chincoteague on the Eastern Shore.

Areas, including Elizabeth City, Kill Devil Hills, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg saw gusts of around 36-37 mph. Those speeds are forecast to increase throughout the day — to 55 to 60 mph — and remain strong near the coast on Saturday.

The conditions impacted travel, too, as Norfolk International Airport noted on Twitter — several arriving and departing flights were cancelled.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was closed to all traffic because of the high winds. Officials announced Friday afternoon around 3:30 that the bridge was back open with Level 4 wind restrictions, which means the only types of vehicles allowed to cross are cars without exterior cargo, pickup trucks without cargo, mini-vans and SUVs. Nearly two hours later, it closed again.

Nuisance tidal flooding is going to be an issue at Sewells Point later in the day on Friday, with minor-to-moderate flooding expected on Saturday. Near major flooring of 6.5 feet will be possible in Duck, North Carolina.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore offered “trip planning tips” ahead of the storm.

Officials say parts of North Carolina Highway 12 in the Outer Banks were flooded. The National Park Service said it is not expecting its facilities and services to be closed at Cape Hatteras.

The Hatteras to Ocracoke ferry resumed its normal schedule Saturday evening after closing Friday, according to the NCDOT Ferry Division.

Stay on top of the latest forecast information through WAVY’s Super Doppler 10 Online and the WAVY Weather App.

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