Events rescheduled as IW braces for expected tropical storm

Published 10:48 am Thursday, September 21, 2023

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:35 p.m. on Sept. 21

The National Hurricane Center is projecting a strong, low-pressure system off the Atlantic coast  near Florida will intensify into a tropical cyclone by Friday and make landfall over southeast Virginia by Saturday.

The National Weather Service’s Wakefield station has issued tropical storm and storm surge warnings for Isle of Wight  and Surry counties.

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As of the 11:28 a.m. alert, tropical storm-force winds were expected within the next 36 hours.

The storm surge warning, issued at 520 p.m., means life-threatening flooding 2 to 4 feet above ground level is also possible within the 36 hours as rising water moves inland from the coastline, the NWS warns.

According to NWS Meteorologist Alec Butner, the National Weather Service has been tracking the storm for several days, and made the call this morning that the storm would likely follow a tropical cyclone route based on its potential to strengthen as it passes through warn gulf stream waters.

Wind speeds, as of this morning’s alert, were projected at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph, which may result in downed trees and impassable roads due to debris.

The forecast has already prompted a flurry of event cancellations.

The start time for Smithfield High School’s Friday night game versus Lafayette has been moved up to 5:30 p.m. According to Principal Patricia Cuffee, SHS will announce by noon on Friday if the game gets canceled.

Windsor High School moved up its Friday night football game versus Franklin to Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m.

The Smithfield Farmers Market scheduled for Saturday morning in the parking lot of the Bank of Southside Virginia on Main Street has also been canceled, according to Judy Winslow, director of the town’s and Isle of Wight County’s shared tourism department.