Aug. 3 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Isaias is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane on Monday as it swirls off the northeastern coast of Florida and takes aim for a possible landfall somewhere on the Carolina coast.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. update Monday that Isaias was 115 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Fla., and 280 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach, S.C. It had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and was moving north at 9 mph.
The center said in its update Monday that Isaias is expected to become a hurricane again, and new hurricane warnings have been issued for parts of the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts.
A hurricane warning has been issued from South Santee River, S.C., to Surf City, N.C. A tropical storm warning is in effect for parts of northeast Florida and coastal points north.
“On the forecast track, the center of Isaias will pass well east of the Georgia coast through [Monday] morning,” the NHC said. “The center of Isaias will then approach the coast of northeastern South Carolina and southern North Carolina within the hurricane warning area later.
“The center will then move inland over eastern North Carolina [Monday night] and move along the coast of the mid-Atlantic states on Tuesday and into the northeastern United States by Tuesday night.”
As the weekend wound down, Isaias, which had briefly been a Category 1 hurricane that pounded the Bahamas last week with powerful winds and flooding rains, churned up the Atlantic coast of Florida. Radar images showed the bulk of the heaviest moisture was staying well offshore, but the east coast of Florida was experiencing its share of high winds.
The Carolinas are bracing for the storm, which meteorologists say could make landfall just south of Myrtle Beach, S.C, on Monday evening. In Charleston, local officials were preparing sandbag pickup locations for residents, as a storm surge warning was in effect from Edisto Beach, S.C., to Cape Fear, N.C.
“All residents visiting these sites will be required to wear masks and gloves, and maintain six feet of distance between themselves and other patrons,” the city of Charleston said in a statement.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for portions of the state Friday and urged residents to prepare ahead of Isaias’ approach.
“Now is the time for North Carolinians to prepare,” Cooper said. “[Storm] preparations will be different given the COVID-19 pandemic, and families need to keep that in mind as they get ready.”
North Carolina Emergency Management readied the National Guard should crew members need to respond to flood rescues, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation was also on standby with equipment should they need to respond to storm damage early in the week.
Along the Florida coast, in Palm Beach County and Indian River County, shelters were opened on Saturday night in advance of potential impacts that may relocate residents later in the weekend. But they were closed on Sunday.
NASA arranged plans for a spacecraft to undock from the International Space Station and splash down landing near Florida on Sunday. However, there were concerns that Isaias would create hazardous conditions at the primary splashdown site.
Before the landing, NASA reported that the gulf “looks like glass” and weather conditions were perfect for the touchdown. Thanks to Isaias weakening, the capsule had a successful splashdown off Pensacola, Florida.
On its trek toward Florida, Isaias made landfall in the Bahamas around 11 a.m. EDT Saturday on the northern part of Andros Island, NHC reported. The storm’s maximum-sustained winds fluctuated between 80 and 85 mph throughout the morning, before the storm weakened a bit due to its interaction with land.
The storm came within 40 miles west-southwest of Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas on Saturday, after leaving behind scenes of flooding in Puerto Rico.
Two people were killed in the Dominican Republic: a 53-year-old farmer was reported electrocuted with his horse, after a tree knocked down the power lines, and a 5-year-old boy crushed by a wall, according to Dominican Today.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in every coastal county of Florida’s Atlantic Coast, stretching from Miami-Dade to Nassau counties, on Friday in preparation for the storm. The governor also sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting a pre-landfall emergency declaration.
DeSantis noted on Twitter that the President had approved the request.
Isaias became the earliest “I-storm” in recorded history last Wednesday, surpassing Irene, which formed on Aug. 7, 2005. The storm was also the earliest in the season to move through the Bahamas since 1995 when Category 1 Erin passed over the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama on Aug. 1-2, according to Colorado State tropical meteorologist Philip Klotzbach.