Tropical Storm Isaias got slightly stronger as it slid past Florida’s coast and it could become a hurricane again as it nears the Carolinas. It will then push over the Mid-Atlantic into New York and New England. A hurricane watch has been issued from the South Santee River in South Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina. Isaias could still raise ocean levels as much as 4 feet above normal from South Carolina to Virginia, as well as sweeping the eastern seaboard with high winds and wringing out as much as 6 inches (15 cm) of rain in Mid-Atlantic and 4 inches in New York and New England, the National Hurricane Center said. “Isaias is expected to be near hurricane strength when it reaches the coast of northern South Carolina and southern North Carolina Monday night, and strong tropical force winds are likely, with hurricane conditions possible,” Stacy Steward, a meteorologist with center wrote in his forecast.
North Carolina has opened shelters for people looking to flee the storm and will screen for COVID-19 symptoms, sending anyone who tests positive to another location where they can be isolated and receive medical attention, Governor Roy Cooper said in a tweet. The state has also activated 150 National Guard troops to help prepare for flooding and damage.
The storm diminished from hurricane-strength late Saturday and has remained a tropical storm through Sunday. In its weakened state it will probably cause about $700 million in damage and economic loss, down from initial estimates of $3 billion when it was still a hurricane, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research, said in an email interview.
“Plan for power outages, street flooding, some scattered trees down, and have your radio on in case a random tornado forms,” Watson wrote in his blog earlier. “Plan for some bad weather — hazardous in a few places, but not dangerous if you don’t do anything dumb.”
President Donald Trump issued emergency declarations in Florida, where it nearly hit Sunday, and North Carolina. The storm killed at least one woman in Puerto Rico and caused slight damage across the Bahamas. It is 2020’s ninth Atlantic storm, the fastest such a tally has been reached in records going back to 1851.While forecasters track Isaias, they’re also watching another patch of thunderstorms near the Caribbean Leeward Islands that has a 60% chance of becoming the season’s next storm in five days, the center said.