Tropical Storm Isaias’s path nears east coast of Florida

Bands of rain from Isaias soaked portions of Florida’s east coast Sunday morning as the tropical storm swirled just offshore. Wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph were also reported in some areas. 

As of 8 a.m. ET, Isaias was a powerful tropical storm with 65 mph winds and was located about 40 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach. It was crawling northwest at 8 mph. 

Isaias is no longer forecast to regain hurricane strength, the National Hurricane Center said.

In an advisory released early Sunday morning, the hurricane center said the center of Isaias will move near or over the east coast of Florida through late Sunday night. On Monday and Tuesday, the storm’s center will move from offshore of the coast of Georgia into the southern mid-Atlantic states.

Rain and wind from Isaias could then impact the Northeast and New England by Wednesday.

The center’s earlier hurricane warning along the east coast of Florida was replaced with a tropical storm warning. However, the tropical storm warning has been extended northward along the southeast United States coast into South Carolina.

Little change in strength is expected during the next couple of days. As it tracks north, it is also expected to pick up speed.

In addition to rain and wind, dangerous storm surge is still possible along portions of Florida’s east coast, where water inundation of 2 to 4 feet could occur.

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. 

As the storm approached Florida, state authorities also closed beaches, parks and COVID-19 virus testing sites, lashing signs to palm trees so they wouldn’t blow away. The governor said the state is anticipating power outages and asked residents to have a week’s supply of water, food and medicine on hand.

In Palm Beach County, about 150 people were in shelters, 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. 

“We don’t anticipate many more evacuations,” she said, adding that the evacuees are physically distant from each other and are wearing masks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In South Carolina, forecasters said Isaias would arrive as a tropical storm, with winds battering the state Monday and Monday night. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said he did not plan to call a mandatory evacuation ahead of the storm.

“We’ve been through these before, as you know, so we’re fully prepared,” McMaster said. “We’re hoping this storm will not hit us hard, if it hits at all.”

Authorities in North Carolina ordered the evacuation of Ocracoke Island, which was slammed by last year’s Hurricane Dorian, starting Saturday evening. 

Meanwhile, forecasters were watching yet another system far out on the Atlantic. Showers and thunderstorms associated with a tropical system a few hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands are organizing and have a 60% chance of become a tropical cyclone over the next five days.

Contributing: The Associated Press, Cheryl McCloud, Treasure Coast Newspapers; Kimberly Miller, The Palm Beach Post