Michael kills 5, leaves thousands without power in Virginia
NORFOLK, Va. — More than 214,000 Dominion Energy customers woke without power in Hampton Roads on Friday morning, after Tropical Storm Michael swept through overnight, according to the energy company’s website.
That includes more than 120 schools, according to a tweet from Dominion. All schools in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Portsmouth are closed.
Elsewhere in Virginia the storm took a worse toll, killing five people in the state and dropping five suspected tornadoes.
The fatalities included two people in the Richmond region – one from a car crash and one in a drowning – and three drownings in the western part of the state, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Officials believe tornadoes touched down in Gloucester, James City/New Kent, Halifax, Pittsylvania and Amelia.
“We were blessed yet again,” said Jim Redick, Norfolk’s director of emergency preparedness and response.
In Hampton Roads, the power outages include more than 51,000 customers in Virginia Beach, plus 33,000 in Norfolk, 19,000 in Chesapeake, 10,000 in Portsmouth and about 5,000 in Suffolk. The Peninsula is also without power: about 27,000 customers in Hampton, 17,000 in James City County, 29,000 in Newport News, 2,000 in Williamsburg and 15,000 in York.
“We want people to be prepared for multi-day outages,” said Dominion spokeswoman Bonita Billingsley Harris. She said the outages are mostly due to downed trees and tree limbs. Crews are responding to emergency calls and critical needs first.
Sustained winds Thursday night reached 37 miles per hour with gusts up to 67 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. A high wind warning remains in effect for southeast Virginia, North Carolina and the Eastern Shore.
In Gloucester County, officials believe that a tornado may have struck the Guinea section Thursday evening as the storm moved into the area. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the area around 7:20 p.m. Shortly after, witnesses reported hearing loud, roaring noises consistent with a tornado, according to Gloucester emergency management coordinator Brett Major. A number of trees and telephone poles were snapped in high winds.