Storm Isaias nears Florida’s east coast

MIAMI (REUTERS) – Isaias, downgraded from a hurricane but still a powerful tropical storm, churned close to Florida on Sunday (Aug 2), set to brush the state’s east coast with strong winds, drenching rain and potential coastal flooding.

By  8am Sunday local time (8pm Singapore time, the centre of Tropical Storm Isaias was about 70 km east-southeast of West Palm Beach, heading northwest with top sustained winds of 100kph, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

Winds are seen in Palm Beach, Florida, as tropical storm Isaias approaches on Aug 1, 2020.
Winds are seen in Palm Beach, Florida, as tropical storm Isaias approaches on Aug 1, 2020.PHOTO: NYTIMES

On its current path, Isaias will move near or over Florida’s east coast during Sunday, the Miami-based NHC said. On Monday and Tuesday, its centre would move from offshore of the coast of Georgia into the southern mid-Atlantic states.

Little change was expected in the storm’s strength in the next couple of days, the NHC said.

Parts of the US East Coast from south Florida to Cape Fear in North Carolina could be hit by storm surges – when a storm pushes tidal levels above normal – of up to 1.22m, the NHC said. 

Rainfall could total as much as 15cm in parts of Florida.

Isaias was not expected to affect the return home on Sunday of two NASA astronauts who rode to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon.

They were heading for a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico, off Florida’s northwest coast, capping a two-month voyage in space that marked NASA’s first crewed mission from home soil in nine years.

Florida is used to being hit by hurricanes, but its well-honed storm responses have been partly upended by its grappling with one of the country’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. 

The state has recorded more than 480,000 cases, with tens of thousands recorded in the last week alone, according to a Reuters tally. 

Governor Ron DeSantis said on Saturday the state emergency management division was supplying shelters with enough personal protective equipment for 10,000 people.

 Isaias lashed parts of the Bahamas with what was expected to be as much as 30cm of rain en route to the United States.  It caused at least two deaths in the Dominican Republic and knocked out power for thousands of homes and businesses in Puerto Rico, according to media reports.

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