Isaias weakens to tropical storm as it approaches Florida

Isaias weakened to a tropical storm Saturday night as it approached the southeast coast of Florida.

8/2/2020 1:30:00 PM

Isaias weakened to a tropical storm Saturday night as it approached the southeast coast of Florida.

Strong winds from Isaias are expected to hit Florida's east coast before moving north move toward the Carolinas.

USA TODAYIsaias weakened to a tropical storm Saturday night as it approached the southeast coast of Florida, and forecasters say it will likely maintain that strength as it continues its track along the coastline of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

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In an advisory released early Sunday morning, the National 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.

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.The Hurricane Center also warned of a possible dangerous storm surge along the Florida east coast from Jupiter Inlet to Ponte Vedra Beach, where water could rise as much as 4 feet above ground level.

The storm is predicted to slowly weaken starting Sunday night and through Monday. As it tracks north, it is also expected to pick up speed.At 5 a.m. ET, the storm was centered about 45 miles east-southeast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, moving northwest at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.

Expected rainfall from Isaias, from Friday night through Tuesday in South and east central Florida, could be 2 to 4 inches, with isolated totals of 6 inches, the Hurricane Center said.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has 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.

DeSantis warned Saturday that Isaias will probably strengthen back into a hurricane while moving north along Florida’s east coast."Don’t be fooled by the downgrade," the governor said at an evening briefing at the state’s Emergency Operations Center. “We do think it’ll be upgraded back to a hurricane later this evening.”

He said utility companies have alerted thousands of repair workers to restore power lines after the storm. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state has equipped shelters all along the coast with protective equipment, should evacuation of hospitals or nursing homes become necessary.

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Hurricane Isaias:DeSantis has urged people to have seven days of food, water and medication on hand and said state-run coronavirus testing sites in the areas where the storm could hit would be closed.Isaias to reach Carolinas on Monday likely as a tropical storm

In South Carolina, forecasters said Isaias would likely 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 an 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. Read more: USA TODAY »

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