Hurricane Irene began to pummel Virginia on Saturday night -- killing three and leaving millions without power -- yet Virginia's governor warned the worst is still to come.
Irene began her heavy assault on Virginia's Hampton Roads region on Saturday night around 8 p.m., though Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell unfortunately thinks much worse is on its way.
This period of time right now and over the next couple of hours will be some of the most dangerous for southeast Virginia with this storm, McDonnell told reporters. We expect a much higher level of storm surge than previously predicted.
Southeastern Virginia has already been hit by heavy rainfall, as much as 10 inches in some areas, with even more to come. Current forecasts show the Tidewater and other areas to be hit by as much as 16 inches of rain plus 75 mph winds.
The heavy rainfall and storm surges could lead to bad flooding throughout southern Virginia. The hurricane is hitting at a time when tides are highest, which could be a deadly combination.
It's just bad timing with the winds at their peak at the same time as high tide, he said. So storm surge is very dangerous. Of course, we urge nobody go down to the water right now because it's extremely, extremely dangerous.
Earlier on Saturday, an 11-year-old boy was killed when a tree fell through his family's apartment. Later reports indicated that two additional Virginia residents have died from hurricane related injuries.
The storm has picked up its speed to about 16 mph moving north-northeast, according to the National Hurricane Center's 9 p.m. advisory. The storm maintains sustained winds of 80 mph and gusts of 100 mph as it gains speed moving away from North Carolina.
The storm has a wide reach outward of 85 miles for hurricane-force winds and 295 miles for tropical storm strength winds. This reach has scattered rain bands and heavy winds throughout the East Coast, even though the eye of the storm was hours away.
Police have imposed a mandatory curfew in at-risk Tidewater communities, urging residents to not travel. Virginia Beach, where the young boy was killed, has ordered residents to evacuate low-lying residencies.
Close to two million Virginia residents are already without power, according to McDonnell, and that number is only expected to increase as the storm moves through Virginia. The storm has begun to regain power since going offshore from the Carolinas and could leave millions more without power.