Tropical Storm Isaias could become a hurricane on its way to the Carolinas, according to FOX 35 meteorologists.
Tropical Storm Isaias gained speed Monday morning as it continued to power march up the East Coast leaving showers behind in Florida and targeting the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. update.
Isaias revved up its forward motion to 13 mph, after losing speed Sunday traveling up Florida’s east coast; a further increase in speed is expected late Monday. The storm’s 70 mph winds remain steady, but are expected to improve and become Category 1 hurricane-force winds sustained at 75 mph later Monday before making landfall in the Carolinas.
As of the 8 a.m. update, Isaias is 100 miles east of Jacksonville, and 250 miles away from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The center of Isaias is expected to pass east up Georgia’s coast and approach the South Carolina and North Carolina border.
The NHC issued a hurricane warning from South Santee River, South Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina while a tropical storm warning remains in effect from Flagler County north of the South Santee River and then from Surf City up to Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Storm surge inundation of 3 to 5 feet above ground level is expected between South Santee River and Cape Fear, North Carolina.
Vertical wind sheer over Florida has kept Isaias’ organization off balance and unable to structure its winds enough for further growth, however that interference is forecast to end Monday, the NHC said, as Isaias turns more northeastward. Intensity models show slight strengthening over the next 12 hours allowing the probability for Isaias to regain it hurricane status.
Slow weakening is forecast following Carolinian landfall and as it progresses toward the U.S. mid-Atlantic region Monday night and Tuesday.
Isaias’ tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles from its center, primarily to the east of the storm.
Doom for Isaias is expected by Wednesday or Thursday when its forecast to be absorbed into a larger extratropical low over Canada.
While it never made landfall in Florida, Isaias did shut off the lights in east coast communities, according to Florida Power & Light, which serves Florida’s coastal counties. The electric provider reported it restored more than 25,000 customers’ power as of 8 a.m. Monday with around 1,485 still without service.
Over the weekend, the storm dumped rain, knocked out power and snapped trees as it lashed the Bahamas on Saturday, growing to as much as 85 mph sustained winds with stronger gusts, but lost steam dropping to tropical storm strength of 70 mph by 5 p.m. It reduced even more by 5 a.m. Sunday as it made its way toward South Florida.
Isaias has already been destructive in the Caribbean: On Thursday, before it became a hurricane, it uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. One man died in the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floodwaters that swept away one woman, whose body was recovered Saturday.
The NHC was also tracking a tropical wave in the Atlantic a few hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands. Forecasters give that storm a 40% chance of forming into a tropical depression or storm in the next two days, with better odds of 60% over the next five days.
The 2020 hurricane season already has seen seven tropical storms: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, plus Hurricane Hanna, which hit Texas last weekend, and now Isaias. The next named storms would be Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.
Orlando Sentinel staff reporters Paola Pérez and Matthew J. Palm and The Associated Press contributed to this story.