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Virginia prepares for possible effects of Hurricane Dorian

In this NOAA GOES-East satellite handout image, Hurricane Dorian, seen here as a Category 4 storm, moves slowly past Grand Bahama Island on Sept. 2, 2019, in the Atlantic Ocean. Dorian stalled over the Bahamas, dropping torrential rain for hours and bringing high winds and storm surge to the islands.

ROANOKE, Va. – As Hurricane Dorian, now back up to a Category 3 storm, heads up the coast, the Commonwealth is preparing for the potential impacts. 

Emergency shelters are set to open in Portsmouth Thursday, and all city schools and administrative offices are closed Thursday and Friday. 

Virginia Beach and surrounding areas such as Norfolk and Newport News are under a Tropical Storm Warning 

This means that wind gusts between 39 and 73 mph are likely Thursday and Friday... along with flash flooding and coastal storm surge. 

The eye of Dorian will be offshore, but these impacts stretch miles from the eye. 

With spades and shovels in hands, it was busy at the Virginia Beach Sports Plex as people living in low lying areas took advantage of free sandbags. 

Governor Northam declared a State of Emergency Monday so people could start getting ready. 

The U.S. Navy has ordered ships based at Naval Station Norfolk to head out to sea to avoid Hurricane Dorian.

The ships will remain at sea until the threat from the storm subsides. About 110 aircraft will either be secured in hangars or fly to more inland airfields.

"A lot of what we're doing now is putting flyable assets in other places so if they're needed after the storm they can be utilized," said Captain Shawn Bailey, commodore of Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic. 

36 helicopters at Naval Station Norfolk will be going to Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida.

Ships that have to stay in port because of maintenance will take extra precautions - including additional mooring and storm lines - to avoid potential damage.