NEW FRIDAY MORNING:
The watches issued for parts of Virginia Thursday have been both expanded and upgraded to warnings early Friday morning. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the orange areas on the map below, including the entire Richmond and Petersburg metro regions, for imminent Tropical Storm impacts by 36 hours from now. In the bright pink, that's the Hurricane Warning for Hurricane impacts in 36 hours.
The worst of the impacts should be felt in the Commonwealth late Saturday evening, overnight, into Sunday morning. In fact, the greatest sustained winds could occur in the dead of night:
For your reference, Tropical Storm force winds are up to 73 mph, and Hurricane force winds are 74 mph and stronger. Compare this to a severe thunderstorm wind gust of 58 mph or stronger, and you can understand why we could be dealing with significant damage in central and eastern Virginia because of potential several hours of strong Tropical Storm force winds. We could experience power outages, downed trees and limbs, and structure damage. Please develop a disaster plan now. Visit the Red Cross website for extensive resources on how to stay safe this weekend!
In addition to the strong wind threat, there is also the potential for flooding rainfall, mainly east of I-95, where there is a Flood Watch for this weekend. Here's what the potential accumulated rainfall may look like by the end of the weekend:
As is common in land-falling tropical systems, small, brief, weak tornadoes may occur within the spiral bands of the storm. That puts places especially along and east of I-95 prone to this additional wind damage threat.
For the most recent updates on Irene's status and forecast track, I encourage you to utilize our Hurricane Tracker Tool by clicking here.
Stay with CBS 6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose
Click here for my Facebook Page.
Click here to follow me on Twitter @SouthernRedRose.