What to Know
- A hurricane warning was in effect for the east coast of Florida from Boca Raton to the Volusia/Brevard County line
- A hurricane watch was in effect for a portion of Broward, from Hallandale Beach to south of Boca Raton
- The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center showed the storm's maximum sustained winds at 85 miles per hour
Parts of South Florida remained on guard after hurricane warnings and watches were issued along the east coast for expected impacts from Category 1 Hurricane Isaias, a storm that threatened to drop heavy wind and rain on the area over the weekend.
Isaias had maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour and was about 115 miles south-southeast of Nassau, Bahamas, moving northwest at 14 miles per hour, according to the 2 a.m. Saturday advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
A hurricane watch was issued Friday for a portion of Broward County, from Hallandale Beach to south of Boca Raton.
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A hurricane warning was in effect for the east coast of Florida from Boca Raton to the Volusia/Brevard County Line.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, extending northward to Boca Raton, and for Lake Okeechobee.
A tropical storm watch was in effect for Flagler/Volusia County Line to Ponte Vedra Beach.
The area could see rainfall anywhere from two to six inches as forecasters said additional strengthening is expected through early Saturday, and Isaias is forecast to remain a hurricane for the next couple of days. The forecast track shows the hurricane pushing north along the Eastern Seaboard through midweek.
A storm surge watch was also in effect for Jupiter Inlet to Ponte Vedre Beach.
At a news conference Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for all counties along the state's east coast from Miami-Dade northward.
"While current projections have the eye of Isaias remaining at sea, the situation remains fluid and can change quickly," DeSantis said.
Hurricane force winds extend up to 35 miles from the center of the storm while tropical storm force winds extend up to 175 miles from the center.
The NHC said heavy rains associated from the storm “may begin to affect South and east-Central Florida beginning late Friday night, and the eastern Carolinas by early next week, potentially resulting in isolated flash and urban flooding, especially in low-lying and poorly drained areas.”
Miami-Dade County is preparing for possible effects from Isaias this weekend as portions of South Florida remained in the forecast cone.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez held a virtual news conference Friday morning the county's Emergency Operations Center to address what the county is doing to prepare for tropical storm conditions that could start as early as late Friday night.
"Now is the time you should all be prepared, even if this storm is not forecasted to be a major storm," Gimenez said Friday. "It can still cause damage."
Miami-Dade was closing parks, beaches, marinas and golf courses Friday night in anticipation of the storm.
Officials in Broward County held a Friday afternoon news conference to discuss their Isaias preparations.
"We will get through this storm as we always do," Broward Mayor Dale Holness said.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the northwest and central Bahamas, areas that are expected to get up to eight inches of rain.
Just last year, two Bahamian islands, Abaco and Grand Bahama, were battered by Dorian, a Category 5 storm that hovered over the area for two days and killed at least 70 people, with more than 280 reported missing. People are still living in tents on both islands, and officials said crews were trying to remove leftover debris ahead of Isaias.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced late Thursday that he was relaxing a coronavirus lockdown as a result of the impending storm, but said a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew would be implemented starting Friday. He said supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores would be allowed to be open as long as weather permitted.
“These are especially difficult days,” he said during an online news conference. “We need at this time the spirit of love and unity.”
Stephen Russell, director of the Bahamas’ emergency management agency, said there were no plans to evacuate people, but he urged those living in low-lying areas to seek shelter.
The Bahamas has reported more than 500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 14 deaths. It recently barred travelers from the U.S. following a surge in cases as it reopened to international tourism.
Given the pandemic, the prime minister urged young people booking hotel rooms to stay safe from the approaching storm to respect social distancing measures.
“Please do not engage in hurricane or COVID(-19) parties,” he said. “It can be devastating.”
On Thursday, Isaias knocked out power and caused flooding and small landslides across Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Government workers in the Dominican Republic used loudspeakers to urge people to evacuate ahead of the worst of the storm, while police arrested a handful of surfers in the capital of Santo Domingo accused of violating government storm warnings.
Especially hard hit was Puerto Rico's southern region, which still shakes daily from aftershocks. Heavy rains inundated neighborhoods weakened by the tremors, causing some recently abandoned homes to collapse.
“Everyone is in a constant state of emergency,” said Marieli Grant with Mercy Corps.
The storm knocked out power to more than 400,000 clients across Puerto Rico, including hospitals that switched to generators, and left some 150,000 customers without water. Crews opened the gates of one dam that last month had such a low water level that officials cut service every other day for some 140,000 customers. Outages also were reported in the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands.
Other damage including 14% of cell towers down was reported elsewhere across Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people still use tarps as roofs over homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
“I didn't think it was going to be this strong,” said José Pagán, a 22-year-old who lives in the eastern mountain town of Juncos and whose home was slightly flooded. “It's a rather difficult experience because it reminds us of Maria.”
More than 50 people sought shelter in Puerto Rico, said Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who urged those living near swollen rivers to find refuge. But many remained wary of shelter given a spike in COVID-19 cases on the island.
In the western town of Mayaguez, Alan Rivera, a 40-year-old engineer, told the AP that the street in front of his house turned into a flowing river — something that didn't even happen during Hurricane Maria. He and his family planned to temporarily move in with his parents despite concerns about the coronavirus.
“We have to take the risk,” he said. “There's no other alternative.”
President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration in Puerto Rico as a result of the storm.
Isaias is the earliest ninth Atlantic named storm to form, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous record was Irene on August 7, 2005, Klotzbach tweeted.
So far this year, Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard, Fay, Gert and Hanna have also been the earliest named Atlantic storms for their alphabetic order.