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Carolinas expected to bear the brunt of Isaias

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 4 days ago Maura Kelly

Hurricane Isaias lashed the Bahamas, making landfall over Andros Island around midday Saturday, before it approaches the Florida coast this weekend and then eyes the southeastern U.S. coast early in the week.

Isaias is expected to turn to the north then the northeast this weekend, taking it on a path just east of the Florida coast before it is predicted to strike the Carolinas early next week.

a close up of a map © Provided by AccuWeather

Even though the Carolinas are predicted to take the brunt of Isaias, the exact impacts will depend on where the storm makes landfall and how much strength the storm is able to maintain into the beginning of the week.


North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a state of emergency for portions of the state on Friday and urged residents to take the storm seriously.

Officials were already anticipating the storm's arrival and taking steps to mitigate potential impacts late in the week. Mandatory evacuations were issued Friday on Ocracoke Island, one of the places hardest hit last year by Hurricane Dorian.

"A hurricane during a pandemic is double trouble," Cooper tweeted on Friday. "But the state has been carefully preparing for this scenario."

On Saturday, the storm had already begun to shown signs of weakening after it interacted with the Bahamas and battled against an area of moderate wind shear, or strong winds aloft, and dry air -- both factors that can cause organized tropical systems to weaken. Despite the fact that the storm is churning over very warm waters of the Gulf Stream, sufficiently warm enough to allow the hurricane to maintain strength, Isaias is expected to approach the southeastern U.S. as a tropical storm due to the influence of winds.

Isaias was moving to the northwest at 12 mph on Saturday, and it was expected to come within 25 miles of the Florida coast at its closest approach.

It then will set its sights on the Carolinas. AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller expects Isaias to make landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, by Monday night.

a close up of a map © Provided by AccuWeather

Despite a forecast of lessening wind strength throughout the day on Monday, Isaias is still forecast to bring areas of flooding and strong winds to the region. Because of this, Isaias is forecast to be a 1 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes, a nuanced scale that AccuWeather introduced during the 2019 hurricane season to help better indicate the level of impacts a storm will bring.

Winds will pick up across South Carolina late Sunday night as the storm approaches the region, then will spread into eastern North Carolina throughout the day.

a close up of a map © Provided by AccuWeather

"Wind gusts of 40-60 mph will occur over the eastern Carolinas as Isaias moves through the area," stated Miller.

Near and just east of where Isaias makes landfall wind gusts of 60-70 mph and an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph cannot be ruled out.

Tropical storm-force winds extended 115 miles outward from the storm's center on Saturday as the storm was much more compact since its interactions with land in the northern Caribbean and the Bahamas. Hurricane-force wind gusts only reach about 25 miles from Isaias' center.

Due to the small size of Isaias, which was previously a large and sprawling storm, the storm's outer rainbands aren't expected to arrive until late in the day on Sunday. The heaviest rain will overspread the area on Monday.

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"Rainfall amounts of 2-4 inches will be common across the Bahamas and the east coast of Florida, stretching into the eastern Carolinas. Locally higher amounts of 4-8 inches along where the center of the storm tracks," Miller added.

An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 10 inches is possible, especially in the higher terrain. This amount of rainfall can lead to flash flooding across the region.

In addition to the rain, storm surge of 3-6 feet expected to the east of where Isaias makes landfall, in particular over the Outer Banks, could cause coastal flooding. A total of 1-3 feet of inundation is expected elsewhere in the Southeast.

a close up of a map © Provided by AccuWeather

"We will hope for the best but prepare for the worst with Hurricane Isaias," Cooper tweeted, urging residents to stay tuned and heed warnings.

Meanwhile, forecasters were warning residents all along the Eastern Seaboard to keep tabs on Isaias. The storm will parallel the mid-Atlantic coast by the middle of the week and could make another landfall as it nears New England. Rough surf, coastal flooding and tropical storm-force wind gusts are possible along the northeastern U.S. coast Tuesday into Wednesday.

a map with text © Provided by AccuWeather

It's not just meteorologists who need to keep a close eye on how storms develop and where they're heading. AccuWeather users can now do that from home using our local hurricane tracker pages that provide detailed information about a specific location.

Click on the city name to track how Isaias will impact each place as it churns northward: Miami, FloridaDaytona Beach, Florida; Jacksonville, FloridaMyrtle Beach, South CarolinaHilton Head, South CarolinaVirginia Beach, VirginiaOcean City, New JerseyNew York CityBoston, Massachusetts.


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