BOSTON • Tropical storm Isaias strengthened slightly as it moved 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 by up to 122cm above normal from South Carolina to Virginia, as well as sweeping the eastern seaboard of the United States with high winds and wringing out as much as 15cm of rain in Mid-Atlantic and 10cm in New York and New England, the National Hurricane Centre 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,” Mr Stacy Steward, a meteorologist with the centre, wrote in his forecast.
A tropical storm watch has been issued for New York City and Long Island, the National Weather Service said. It is expected to hit the area today with wind gusts of up to 80km per hour.
North Carolina has opened shelters for people fleeing 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.
Isaias diminished from hurricane strength late last Saturday and remained a tropical storm through Sunday. In its weakened state it will probably cause about US$700 million (S$960 million) in damage and economic loss, down from initial estimates of US$3 billion when it was a hurricane, Mr Chuck Watson, a disaster modeller with Enki Research, said in an interview.
“Plan for power outages, street flooding, some scattered trees down, and have your radio on in case a random tornado forms,” Mr 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 Isaias nearly hit on Sunday, and North Carolina.
The storm killed at least one woman in Puerto Rico and caused slight damage across the Bahamas. It is the ninth Atlantic storm this year, the fastest that such a tally has been reached in records going back to 1851.