Hurricane Michael is now a tropical storm, more than 24 hours after making landfall on the Florida panhandle Wednesday. However, the storm is still a major concern as it moves through North Carolina and southern Virginia.
In its 8 p.m. ET public advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the storm's center is about five miles northwest of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, with maximum sustained winds at 50 mph. It is moving northeast rapidly at 24 mph. Several storm surge and tropical storm watches and warnings remain active for parts of South Carolina and North Carolina.
The storm is expected to keep moving at its current pace through the rest of Thursday night and could even gain speed on Friday into Saturday. It is forecast to move into southeastern Virginia before the end of the night and continue moving over the northeast before heading out to the Atlantic Ocean.
"The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground if peak surge occurs at the time of high tide," the NHC notes.
The storm is expected to bring four to seven inches of rain in north-central North Carolina and southeast Virginia, and tornadoes are still possible in these areas. Isolated totals could reach nine inches of rain, and the rainfall could "lead to life-threatening flash floods."
Although the storm weakened as it reached North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper warned citizens to remain vigilant.
"Inland hurricanes and tropical storms are life-threatening and can do just as much damage as coastal storms," Cooper said, reports ABC11. "I want all North Carolinians to be on alert — from storm surge on the coast to strong winds in the eastern and central parts of NC, to rain in the Piedmont and the west. Travel can be treacherous right now, so you should stay off the roads if you can. At least 16 roads have already been closed due to Michael."
In Virginia, thousands are already without power. Dominion Energy told WAVY that 60,000 hopes are without power from Danville to Richmond. Almost 3,000 are without power in Chesapeake and almost 2,000 are without power on the Peninsula.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also declared a state of emergency to mobilize state resources.
"I am declaring a state of emergency in order to provide state assets to Virginians and to assist our neighbors in states who are dealing with the devastating effects of this historic storm," Northam said. "My thoughts are with all those along with the Gulf Coast and my administration will continue our outreach to governors and state agencies where Hurricane Michael has produced widespread damage."
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