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Area expects to avoid tropical storm Arthur

Tropical storm Arthur is expected to move toward Virginia early Friday, but area residents shouldn’t fret about their Independence Day plans, forecasters say.

The storm should stay off the coast and will miss the Fredericksburg area almost entirely, said Carl Barnes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling. There is only a 10 percent chance of tropical-storm-force winds reaching the area, he said.

In fact, northeasterly winds will dry out the region by about noon Friday and, with lower humidity levels, the temperature should be comfortable in the mid-to-low 80s, Barnes said.

But today and tonight, the weather will not be so forgiving. Severe thunderstorms could cause flash flooding in low-lying areas, Barnes said.

According to a Wednesday afternoon briefing by the weather service, 1 to 3 inches of rain was forecast for Westmoreland and Louisa counties and 1 to 2 inches for Caroline County from tonight into Friday.

The briefing called for winds tonight in the 10 to 20 mph range, with gusts of 25 to 30 mph, diminishing by Friday afternoon.

High temperatures today area expected to top out in the high 80s. But even that’s an improvement over Wednesday’s high of 93, with the heat index around 100.

But by Friday afternoon, the temperatures will drop to the 80s, and this weekend will be the fifth in a row with temperatures hovering around the low-80s after a week of hot days.

Roberta Gold, the event coordinator for the Heritage Festival in downtown Fredericksburg on July 4, said she doesn’t expect the event to be impacted by the tropical storm at all.

The festival has never been canceled because of the weather, and Gold doesn’t expect this one to be either.

“One year it started to sprinkle during setup and there was such a panic in downtown, you can’t imagine,” Gold said. But the festival went on with no rain for the rest of the day, she added.

Still, she said festival organizers will keep an eye on the forecast in case tropical storm Arthur takes an unexpected turn and does end up impacting Fredericksburg.

For people hoping to be on the Rappahannock River for kayaking or rafting, Jesse Yelverton at the Virginia Outdoor Center predicts that river levels will remain at safe levels and does not anticipate having to cancel any river trips.

Anyone who does venture out on the river should keep in mind, though, that even when water levels are deemed safe, the river’s flow can be unpredictable. Holes and changing currents can easily put even an experienced swimmer in danger.

To stay safe, officials recommend always wearing a life vest in the river.

Residents should also keep in mind that Fredericksburg’s Old Mill Park area and the river shore are closed from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., other than of the Fourth of July.

Fredericksburg police have responded to more than 16 incidents of trespassing or alcohol-related violations on the river so far this year, according to incident records.

Police will continue to patrol the area during the summer days to ensure that everyone is enjoying the river safely.

Katie Shepherd 540/374-5417


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