What to Know
- Isaias is not expected to restrengthen to a hurricane anymore as it moves off the east coast of Florida
- The hurricane warning was replaced by a tropical storm warning along the east coast of Florida up to South Carolina
- The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center showed the storm's maximum sustained winds at 65 miles per hour
The National Hurricane Center discontinued early Sunday a hurricane warning for the east coast of Florida and replaced it with a tropical storm warning, as Isaias continued to weaken.
Isias had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph as it moved to the northwest at 9 MPH, according to the 5 a.m. Sunday update from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Isaias is not expected to regain hurricane strength anymore, forecasters said.
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The center of the storm was about 45 miles southeast of West Palm Beach.
The forecast track for Isaias shifted a little east earlier Saturday, taking Miami-Dade and Broward out of the storm's cone of concern. Still, unsettled weather was expected in South Florida into Sunday, with periods of dry weather between gusty winds and heavy rain.
A tropical storm warning is now in effect from Hallandale, in Broward County, all along Florida's east coast up to South Santee River, in South Carolina.
A storm surge watch was also in effect for Jupiter Inlet to Ponte Vedre Beach.
The forecast track showed the storm pushing north along the Eastern Seaboard through midweek as a tropical storm.
Florida authorities said they had prepared shelters, but didn't expect to have to evacuate people.
“The most important thing we want people to do now is remain vigilant,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Miami Mayor Carlos Giménez said Friday that 20 evacuation centers were on standby that could be set up with COVID-19 safety measures.
“We still don’t think there is a need to open shelters for this storm, but they are ready,” he said.
Officials said that social-distancing measures prompted by COVID-19 meant each person in shelters needed to have 40 square feet and no more cafeteria-style dining would be allowed. People who are infected with the new coronavirus and need to evacuate will be isolated in classrooms separate them from the general population, Giménez said.
At a Palm Beach Gardens shelter, residents had to get their temperatures checked by health officials before entering the makeshift facility.
Public buses were transporting residents to the shelter as crews worked to sanitise the buses between stops.
"We shopped for a little bit of groceries, it's not going to hit us that hard, so we didn't do the extreme shopping that we usually did, last time there was a hurricane and we're just saying home because it's not that big hurricane to, like, panic about it and you know, load up on a lot of supplies," resident Natalie Betancur said.
DeSantis said the state was “fully prepared for this and any future storm during this hurricane season,” with stockpiles of personal protective equipment, generators, bottled water and meals ready to be distributed.
But he urged people to have seven days of food, water and medication on hand and said state-run coronavirus testing sites in the areas where the storm could hit would be closed.
“Our sites, because they’re outdoors with tents, if it were to get 40-, 50-mile-per-hour winds, it would just collapse,” he said. “Safety is paramount for that.”
In Daytona Beach and Polk County, authorities distributed sandbags and other officials advised people to have emergency provisions at home sufficient for three to seven days.
Authorities in North Carolina ordered the evacuation of Ocracoke Island, which was slammed by last year’s Hurricane Dorian, starting Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas cleared people out of Abaco island who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people.
Bahamian officials said they were concerned about a Category 1 storm hitting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The center of COVID-19 now is in Grand Bahama,” the island’s minister, Sen. Kwasi Thompson, told government-run ZNS Bahamas. “No one wanted to see a situation where we are now facing a hurricane.”
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis relaxed a coronavirus lockdown as a result of the storm, but imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. He said supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores would be open as long as weather permitted.
The Bahamas has reported more than 570 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 14 deaths. It recently barred travelers from the U.S. following a surge in cases after it reopened to international tourism.
Paula Miller, Mercy Corps director for the Bahamas, told The Associated Press that people on the island were still standing in line for gas on Saturday ahead of the storm.
The area was still recovering from Dorian, complicating preparations for this one.
“People are doing the best they can to prepare, but a lot of businesses still have not fully repaired their roofs or their structures," she said. “Even a lower level storm could really set them back.”
The storm has already been destructive in the Caribbean: On Thursday, while still a tropical storm, Isaias uprooted trees, destroyed crops and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
One man died in the Dominican Republic, where more than 5,000 people were evacuated, hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed and more than 130 communities were cut off by floodwaters.
In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floodwaters that swept away one woman who remained missing.