Tropical Storm Isaias had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph) and was expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane, with winds of 74 mph (119 kph) or more.
"We are forecasting it to become a hurricane before it reaches the coast this evening," senior hurricane specialist Daniel Brown said. "It's forecast to produce a dangerous storm surge, of 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 meters) in portions of North and South Carolina." Isaias could bring heavy rains, too - up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) in spots as it moves up the coast, Brown said - and "all those rains could produce flash flooding across portions of eastern Carolinas and mid-Atlantic, and even in the northeast U.S."
On the forecast track, the center of Isaias will pass well east of the Georgia coast through this morning. The center of Isaias will then approach the coast of northeastern South Carolina and southern North Carolina within the hurricane warning area later today.
The center will then move inland over eastern North Carolina tonight and move along the coast and into our area Tuesday.
The primary threat from Isaias will be the torrential rainfall, but we also expect wind gusts up to 50 mph..
AccuWeather says much of the region could get 2 to 4 inches of rain with locally higher amounts.
RELATED: How Tri-State is preparing for Isaias
Over the weekend, Isaias brought heavy rain and flooding to Florida as officials kept a close eye on the storm while dealing with surging cases of the coronavirus. The storm had weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Saturday afternoon, and its most damaging winds remained offshore.
"Don't be fooled by the downgrade," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned at a news conference after the storm spent hours roughing up the Bahamas.
DeSantis said that with Florida entering the season's most active time for hurricanes, residents should have a week's supply of water, food and medicine on hand. Upper-level winds later sapped much of the storm's strength, said Stacy Stewart, senior hurricane specialist at the hurricane center in Miami.
"We were expecting a hurricane to develop and it didn't," Stewart said Sunday. "It's a tale of two storms. If you live on the west side of the storm, you didn't get much. If you live east of the storm, there's a lot of nasty weather there.
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Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas cleared people out of Abaco island who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people. Bahamian officials said they were concerned about a Category 1 storm hitting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"The center of COVID-19 now is in Grand Bahama," the island's minister, Sen. Kwasi Thompson, told government-run ZNS Bahamas. "No one wanted to see a situation where we are now facing a hurricane."
The Bahamas has reported more than 570 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 14 deaths. It recently barred travelers from the U.S. following a surge in cases after it reopened to international tourism.
Paula Miller, Mercy Corps director for the Bahamas, told The Associated Press that people on the island were still standing in line for gas on Saturday ahead of the storm. The area was still recovering from Dorian, complicating preparations for this one."
Authorities closed Florida beaches, parks and virus testing sites, lashing signs to palm trees so they wouldn't blow away. Officials also adapted their shelter policies to the pandemic, providing spaces where people could stay safely apart from each other to prevent the spread of the virus. In Palm Beach County, about 150 people were in shelters, and they were wearing masks, said emergency management spokeswoman Lisa De La Rionda.
The county has a voluntary evacuation order for those living in mobile or manufactured homes, or those who feel their home can't withstand winds. In Indian River County, north of West Palm Beach, Florida, emergency shelters were clearing out Sunday after Isaias was downgraded to a tropical storm. Officials told TCPalm newspapers that 38 people registered at three schools used as shelters.
Those areas now must be cleaned to ensure no traces of the coronavirus remain as teachers and staff report Monday to prepare for the upcoming school year. No one checked in with COVID-19 symptoms. Temperature checks were done at the door, officials said, and isolation rooms were designated in case anyone came in with symptoms.
Isaias caused destruction and two deaths as it uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. One man died in the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floods that swept away one woman, whose body was recovered Saturday. Isaias then snapped trees and knocked out power as it blew through the Bahamas on Saturday.
Officials in the Bahamas opened shelters for people in Abaco island to help those who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people in September 2019.
HOW TO PRONOUNCE ISAIAS
If you were wondering, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the proper pronunciation is ees-ah-EE-ahs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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