Hurricane Isaias is veering ever so close to Florida’s southeast coast this weekend, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency as counties in the Category 1 storm’s path prepare for what could be the first named storm to make landfall in the state this year.
“The track has turned a little bit closer to the east coast of Florida,” said Spectrum Bay News 9 meteorologist Nick Merianos. “A landfall is certainly not out of the question for southeast Florida."
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order covers every Florida county running along the east coast, from Miami-Dade to Nassau. A hurricane warning was issued from Boca Raton to the Volusia County/Brevard County line. A storm surge watch is also in effect from Jupiter Inlet to Ponte Vedra Beach.
“At this point, any deviation with the storm track, east or west by even 15 miles would make a big difference,” Merianos said.
Isaias has slowed considerably in recent days and was moving northwest at 15 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. Friday advisory. It was located about 135 miles south-southeast of Nassau, and the advisory said it was generating maximum sustained winds of nearly 80 mph and stronger wind gusts.
It struck Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as a tropical storm on Thursday. Isaias left up to 400,000 powerless in Puerto Rico, fueled flash floods and mudslides, and at least one woman was reported missing when her car was swept away, CNN reported. Then late Friday, the central Bahamas experienced hurricane conditions, and Saturday morning those effects will be felt in the Northwestern Bahamas.
The hurricane is forecast to approach the southeastern tip of Florida on Saturday night. Then it should continue slowing down and spend Sunday hugging the east coast as it follows the Interstate 95 corridor. South Florida and east-Central Florida could get 2 to 4 inches of rain, with some areas seeing up to 6 inches of rainfall. By early Monday the storm is forecast to be off the Jacksonville coast.
If Isaias remains offshore when it approaches southeast Florida, then the brunt of the hurricane’s wind and rain on the right side of the storm will stay in the Atlantic, Merianos said.
“If the circulation is right on the coast, the absolute worst will be offshore but it will still be unpleasant regardless,” the meteorologist said. “If the center makes landfall, it will move onshore and be even more dangerous.”
Meanwhile, a tropical wave is developing in the Atlantic, about 950 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It is moving west and is still disorganized, with a 30 percent chance of strengthening into a tropical cyclone in the next five days.
Isaias is forecast to bring dry air to the Tampa Bay region this weekend with a 20 percent chance of rain Saturday which goes up to 40 percent on Sunday. Highs will be in the mid-90s on Saturday and low 90s on Sunday.
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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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