NORFOLK, Va. - The National Hurricane Center's "Cone of Uncertainty" currently tracks through Hampton Roads with areas to the south and east still in it, but other areas out of it as of Tuesday afternoon.
Despite that, experts warn the entire area could see impacts from Hurricane Dorian. "These storms can be hundreds of miles across, sometimes 300 or 400 miles across. We're tracking the center of the storm, but the effects of the storm can be felt hundreds of miles outside of the center," News 3 meteorologist Myles Henderson said.
The cone tracks where the center of the storm could go. Inside of it, forecasters say there is an equal chance on where the storm may wind up. In addition, experts say about one-third of the time, the center goes outside of the cone.
Experts believe the cone is often misunderstood. "I think where the confusion happens is that people see those little icons [on weather maps] used to indicate strength - category 1, category 2. You see the little icon with the number and forget that the storm is much bigger than what the icon represents," said Henderson.
Norfolk's Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Jim Redick, uses the cone to get a general idea of where the storm is heading, but relies on additional information to formulate the city's response plan. "It provides general guidance, but it does not give clear guidance on where exactly the storm is going to go," Redick said.
This storm will likely pass close enough for Norfolk to see effects. "The surge on top of the rain and the winds could make a mess in our area," Redick said.
For the past few days, his office has been been planning. Public Works staffers are out clearing drains, ditches and making other preparations for wind and rain. While the cone will get narrower as the storm approaches, whether or not Norfolk remains in it won't change how he's planning.
"We err on the side of safety. We have the partners. We have the resources and so we're going to bring them to bear," he said. "Should the worst case scenario occur, we're going to be ready. We're going to be stood up. Norfolk will be resilient."