Isaias is forecast to strengthen to a hurricane and hit the Carolinas

Isaias Remains A Tropical Storm As It Moves Up East Coast
JUNO BEACH, FLORIDA - AUGUST 02: A wave crashes ashore next to a building on August 02, 2020 in Juno Beach, Florida. The storm is brushing along the east coast of Florida and tropical storm conditions will extend northward along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Tropical Storm Isaias is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane and hit the Carolinas on Monday night before traveling up the US East Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane warning has been issued for parts of South Carolina and North Carolina, and surges could reach 3 to 5 feet. The tropical storm warning has been extended northward to Rhode Island.

Now coastal communities in the Carolinas are in the track of the storm, which will bring hazards including storm surge, high surf, strong winds, heavy rain, flash flooding, and a few brief tornadoes. It is forecast to reach North Carolina on Monday night.

After landfall, Isaias is forecast to gradually weaken, but the storm is expected to bring strong winds all along the East Coast on Tuesday. The major metropolitan areas of Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York will be affected. Philadelphia is forecast to see winds of 60-65 mph, while New York City will see winds of 65-70 mph.

Hurricane or tropical storm watches and warnings stretch all the way from Florida to Maine, putting over 1,500 miles of the East Coast at risk.

Evacuations ordered for coastal communities

The Outer Banks communities of Ocracoke Island, which took a direct hit from Hurricane Florence in 2018, and Hatteras Island issued mandatory evacuations on Friday for all visitors and residents ahead of the anticipated storm that could bring flooding to waterfront and adjacent properties, making roadways in the area unpassable.

Visitors were ordered to evacuate Ocean Isle and Holden Beach by Saturday, officials said.

Inland, the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers are expected to rise above moderate flooding level, the North Carolina Emergency Management Department tweeted Sunday.

High winds up to 70 mph are expected and could bring down power lines and trees. Tornadoes are also possible in both North and South Carolina, each state’s emergency management department said.

A surge warning is in place for Charleston and Colleton counties, including downtown Charleston, which could also see 2-4 feet of ocean water.

On Friday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced that he would not issue a mandatory evacuation, but that residents should continue to monitor the weather situation.

“Right now we’re hoping this storm will not hit us hard if it hits at all,” McMaster said. “At this time we have no intention at all of declaring any sort of evacuation.”

South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) Director Kim Stenson said his department will be implementing their new emergency response plan for a Covid environment which includes screening for the virus, providing personal protective equipment, as well as creating social distancing and isolation areas in shelters.

SCEMD will screen people before they get on buses for transport to shelters and will be having less people on buses, requiring more trips, he said.

The shelters are for those who are in homes that may not withstand tropical storm force winds, Stenson added.

Utilities prepare as storm moves north through the week

A tropical storm warning is in effect from Delaware as far north as Rhode Island as the storm is on track to move up the coast after it hits the Carolinas late Monday.

The mid-Atlantic states should see effects of the storm Tuesday in the Delaware Bay, Tidal Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound.

By Wednesday morning, New Hampshire and Maine will see rain as a result of Isaias.

Utility companies in the area are preparing for the storm and have assured customers that they are ready to respond during the pandemic.

Eversource, a power company that serves Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, said in a statement Sunday that it is closely monitoring Isaias’ path and will have extra crews on hand. The company said it has been working under a Covid-19 pandemic plan since March, and its safety measures would also apply during a major storm response.

Philip O’Brien, spokesman for New York’s ConEdison, said his utility is also prepared for Isaias, adding that the tropical storm that passed on July 10 turned out to be a good rehearsal.

“What we are doing now, as of yesterday, is monitoring the storm and preparing for any possible impact in the service area. We are following the path and have different contingencies,” O’Brien said. “One model says it will spin off and weaken, and the other says it could remain a category 1. We are getting designated crew that will go out, which the soonest looks like late Monday or early Tuesday, and determine the appropriate response at that time.”