Virginia issued a state of emergency Saturday night shortly before officials upgraded Tropical Storm Florence to hurricane status as the massive storm churns its way across the Atlantic toward the East Coast.
Florence’s sustained maximum winds reached 75 mph, a tick over the threshold of what is considered a hurricane, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported Sunday. Virginia becomes the third state behind North and South Carolina this weekend to issue a state of emergency ahead of the storm.
“Florence is forecast to rapidly strengthen to a major hurricane by Monday, and is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday,” the NHC said in an 11 a.m. advisory on Sunday. Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam did not wait for the call – he issued the warning before the upgrade.
“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,” Northam said in a press statement Saturday. Coastal states along the eastern board are being advised to check what hurricane evacuation zones they live in.
Here are the 11 AM EDT Key Messages for Hurricane #Florence. There is an increasing risk of life-threatening hazards from storm surge and heavy rainfall from the Carolinas into the mid-Atlantic region later this week https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/cAQTyasGE9
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 9, 2018
Northam’s declaration comes on the heels of similar warnings from Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. (RELATED: North And South Carolina Declare State Of Emergency As Florence Bears Down)
Cooper declared a state of emergency Friday, as the state prepares to make resources available as Florence morphs into a hurricane. He called on residents to make proper precautions. McMaster followed suit. “This is not an evacuation. It is way too early for that,” he said Saturday.
He added: “We know that it’s coming, and we know that we need to take precautions.”
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