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‘Don’t be fooled’ by Hurricane Isaias downgrade, Ron DeSantis warns

The Category 1 storm is projected to move up the state's east coast over the next 24 hours.

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis told Floridians to stay prepared for hurricane-force winds after Hurricane Isaias was downgraded to a tropical storm Saturday afternoon.

“Don’t be fooled by the downgrade,” DeSantis said. “We do think it will be upgraded back into a hurricane later this evening.”

Isaias was downgraded to a tropical storm during the National Weather Service’s 5 p.m. update, but it’s expected to strengthen to a hurricane overnight as it barrels toward Florida’s east coast.

Current projections don’t have it making landfall. The National Weather Service projects it to approach Florida’s southeast coast tonight, then move near or along the coast Sunday and Sunday night. On Monday and Tuesday, the center of the storm is projected to move quickly from off Georgia’s coast into the southern mid-Atlantic states.

On Saturday afternoon, the storm’s maximum sustained winds dropped to 70 mph. It’s currently moving 10 miles per hour, with tropical storm-force extending outward up to 105 miles.

DeSantis said 70-mph winds were still strong enough to knock down tree limbs and cause power outages, and he warned Floridians on the east coast to be prepared.

“That will happen, and people should be prepared for that,” he said.

Areas between Boca Raton and the Volusia-Flagler county line is under a hurricane warning.

Sixteen counties along the state’s east coast have declared states of emergency, with Palm Beach County issuing a voluntary evacuation order, DeSantis said. He added that he doesn’t believe many more areas will issue evacuation orders. The potential spread of COVID-19 has prompted emergency officials to err on the side of keeping people at home, rather than evacuating, he said.

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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

PREPARE FOR COVID-19 AND THE STORM: The CDC's tips for this pandemic-hurricane season

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

Lessons from Hurricane Michael

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind

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