Tropical Storm Michael will bring high winds and heavy rains to much of the region starting this afternoon.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam at 1 p.m. declared a state of emergency for the state. North Carolina was already in a state of emergency.
Located this afternoon in southern North Carolina, Michael was packing winds of 50 mph as it headed to the northeast at 21 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 1 p.m. update.
The storm's eye was forecast to move north of South Hampton Roads at approximately 8 p.m., with most of the weather out of the area before sunrise Friday morning.
Wind warnings have been issued for the region.
Winds will start out from the southeast and quickly turn to the northwest as the storm gets caught up in an approaching cold front as it exits the coast, according to Mike Montefusco, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service's Wakefield office. Winds could be in the 30-mph range, with gusts between 50 and 60 mph along the coast.
"It's going to get pretty windy after midnight," said Jeff Orrock, the chief meteorologist at Wakefield.
Rainfall will be worst to the north of the storm, with the Richmond area expecting 4 to 6 inches and more in localized downpours. At 5 a.m. the weather service said approximately 2 to 3 inches of rain is expected in South Hampton Roads, with less in northeastern North Carolina. There could be some flash flooding in prone areas during heavy downpours, prompting the weather service to issue a flash flood watch.
Montefusco also said there is a concern for isolated tornadoes across the region through this evening.
Michael is the 13th named storm of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season and became the strongest cyclone in history to hit the Florida panhandle when it made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 system with winds of 155 mph.