Tropical Strom Ophelia is threatening to lash the East Coast with gusty winds and heavy rainfall this weekend.
Weather experts say that the storm, which has formed off the mid-Atlantic coast, will weaken as it moves north after drenching states in the region.
“People in coastal areas should take this storm seriously,” AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. “This is going to be a nasty and formidable storm.”
According to the National Hurricane Center‘s Friday afternoon update, Ophelia is about 185 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 60mph.
More than seven million people were under Tropical Storm warnings on Friday afternoon.
Virginia Governor Glenn Younkin declared a State of Emergency in the state on Friday ahead of its arrival.
“As this storm has organized and strengthened, it’s becoming clear based on the latest forecasts that impacts to the commonwealth are likely,” Mr Youngkin said in a statement.
“We want to ensure that all communities, particularly those with the greatest anticipated impact, have the resources they need to respond and recover from the effects of this storm. Since this storm has the potential to have a range of impacts across numerous localities in the commonwealth, I encourage all Virginians and visitors to keep up with the latest forecast for their area from a trusted source, make a plan, and have their emergency kits ready.”
Some areas of Virginia and North Carolina may see a storm surge of between three and five feet.