PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Thousands are without power and multiple trees are down across the area after Tropical Storm Michael shot through the region Thursday night.
As of 2 p.m., Michael had passed the southern tip of the Eastern Shore, heading quickly northeast. It’s expected to be way out into the Atlantic around 8 a.m. Friday morning.
A flash flood watch remains in effect for the Eastern Shore until 8 a.m. and a high wind advisory remains for coastal areas until noon Friday.
According to the Dominion Energy outage map, there were more than 250,000 without power across the southeastern part of Virginia, the Middle Peninsula and northeast North Carolina at 1 a.m. Friday. More than 500,000 Dominion customers didn’t have power between Virginia and North Carolina.
Heavy winds also have caused damage to multiple homes and vehicles across the viewing area, especially in James City County, where trees fell in bunches.
At least four homes have damage in the Villages at Candle Station in Norge, and JCC officials confirmed trees fell on four homes down Richmond Road on Arthur Hills Drive. No injuries have been reported in either community.
The National Weather Service hasn’t confirmed whether a tornado touched down, or if the down trees were caused by straight winds. This all happened around 7:30 p.m.
In Gloucester County, the sheriff’s office says it received reports of trees down on Cuba Road, with some into homes. No injuries have been reported. They’ve also received reports about trees down near Achilles Elementary on Guinea Road.
A downed tree completely blocked Sandbridge Road in Virginia Beach.
A tree also reportedly fell on a home in the 100 block of Arcadia Drive in Newport News. Dispatchers got the call around 11 p.m.
Tornado warnings and watches that were previously issued in the viewing area have been expired.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel announced it was closed to all traffic as of 2 a.m. The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel were still open.
Thousands of power outages have been reported throughout Virginia, including Hampton Roads.
A tornado warning was issued for Suffolk, Smithfield and Carrollton until 6:15 p.m. by the National Weather Service, but no tornadoes have been reported.
A WAVY viewer did send a video of rotation of clouds in Suffolk on Thursday afternoon.
A tornado was confirmed in Virginia by the National Weather Service. It touched down near Scott’s Fork in southern Amelia County, about 36 miles southwest of Richmond.
Central Virginia from northeast of Richmond southwest to Danville got rocked by heavy rainfall and flash flooding Thursday. Longwood University in Farmville got hit especially hard, but no students were reported injured.
Virginia State Police said they responded to approximately 300 traffic crashes and 230 calls for blocked roads and high water. Troopers even had to rescue three firefighters from high waters in Pittsylvania County, where Danville is located.
According to the National Weather Service’s 5 p.m. advisory, Tropical Storm Michael will produce life-threatening flash flooding across parts of North Carolina and Virginia. It had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was approximately 20 miles northwest of Raleigh.
Gov. Ralph Northam declared a State of Emergency for Virginia, hours before Michael’s expected arrival in Hampton Roads.
Michael, once an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, caused widespread destruction across the Florida Panhandle. The storm made landfall Wednesday near Mexico Beach, Florida packing 155 mph winds — the most powerful hurricane on record to hit the state’s northern Gulf Coast shores.
Authorities said at least two people have died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home and according to WMAZ-TV, an 11-year-old girl was also killed by a tree falling on a home in southwest Georgia.
WATCH LIVE: Coverage of Michael. This feed will change periodically. App users can tune in here.
Michael, now as a tropical storm with 50 mph winds, rapidly crossed Georgia early Thursday before hitting the Carolinas, which are still reeling from epic flooding by Hurricane Florence. The Hampton Roads region is expected to begin feeling effects from Michael late Thursday night into Friday.
IMPACTING HAMPTON ROADS, NORTH CAROLINA
Hampton Roads and portions of northeast North Carolina are under an enhanced risk for severe weather Thursday. The threat of Michael prompted school districts in North Carolina to announce early dismissals. Schools in Hampton Roads canceled after-school activities.
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency Wednesday before Michael’s landfall in Florida.
Strong winds and rain from Michael are likely to hit the viewing area overnight Thursday. The storm is then expected to move away from the viewing area quickly Friday morning before jetting out to sea.
At that point, Michael will weaken further and become more of a nor’easter.
Video (App Users): Hampton Roads prepares for Tropical Storm Michael
Rainfall totals from Michael will be about 1 to 3 inches, with some areas getting between 3 to 5 inches. Tidal flooding is expected to be much of a factor this time, due to the storm’s rapid movement.
Some isolated tornadoes may be possible across the viewing area.
Crews with Dominion Energy geared up trucks Wednesday as they prepared to respond in the event of damaging winds and power outages from Michael. Dominion said it will have crews ready out in the field and behind the scenes.
“Some of those crews will be inside like analysts that can reroute power to another source and get the power on faster,” said Dominion spokeswoman Bonita Harris.
A QUICKLY INTENSIFYING SYSTEM
Michael sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore. It forced more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to evacuate as it gained strength quickly while crossing the eastern Gulf of Mexico toward north Florida. It moved so fast that people didn’t’ have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.
‘Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 mph, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.
It also brought the dangers of a life-threatening storm surge.
In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, the storm shattered homes, leaving floating piles of lumber. The lead-gray water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.
Hours earlier, meteorologists watched satellite imagery in complete awe as the storm intensified.
Video: Inside Hurricane Michael
“We are in new territory,” National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. “The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle.”