Hurricane Isaias track: It’s forecast to swipe at South Florida with Category 1 strength.
Hurricane Isaias changed little overnight, keeping on a steady trek toward South Florida as a Category 1 cyclone with wind gusts as high as 100 mph.
The climatologically premature system will leave little of the Peninsula’s east coast unscathed. The Keys through about Fort Lauderdale are the only major areas along the Atlantic outside of the cone of uncertainty.
Although Isaias’ track shifted slightly east early Saturday, keeping the center off the coast, it is still expected to grind its way up the shoreline to Daytona Beach where it begins to swoop around the edge of the Bermuda High and away from Florida.
But not away from the U.S.
Isaias is expected to make landfall as a strong tropical storm in North Carolina early Tuesday and stay glued to the coast through Maine.
It’s a storm the Sunshine State will be dealing with into the early part of next week, but the Eastern Seaboard will feel through at least Thursday.
National Weather Service meteorologists in Miami said coastal residents from about Boynton Beach through the Treasure Coast should prepare for winds between 74 and 110 mph. Inland areas east of Lake Okeechobee could feel winds between 58 to 73 mph.
“A little wiggle or wobble can put the strongest winds onshore,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center.
Still, emergency managers tried to put the Cat 1 storm in perspective, not minimizing its prowess, but asking people not to panic or hoard supplies as in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Folks, take a deep breath here,” said Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw. “This is not a Category 5 hurricane. This is a wake up call. This will not be the last storm coming here. You don’t need to take everything off the shelves, but plan ahead of time.”
Good morning- here are the Key Messages for Saturday morning, August 1 for Hurricane Isaias. The latest NHC forecast is at https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB and US local weather information is at https://t.co/SiZo8ohZMN. pic.twitter.com/kCWeFwqjDW
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 1, 2020
As of 11 a.m., the raggedy-looking Isaias was about 40 miles west-southwest of Nassau with sustained winds of 80 mph. It’s moving northwest at 12 mph – its slowest pace since being recognized as a potential threat by the National Hurricane Center on Tuesday.
Isaias’ hurricane-force winds extend out 35 miles from its center with tropical-storm-force winds having a reach of 175 miles.
That means that even areas outside the cone, including on the west coast of Florida could feel some impacts from Isaias, especially if it tracks to the left side of the cone of uncertainty closer to the center of the state.
Hurricanes track outside the cone about 30 percent of the time.
National Weather Service meteorologists in Tampa noted that there is a “slight chance” of inland counties, including Highlands and Polk, of experiencing gusty winds and heavy rain beginning Saturday night.
With the forward speed throttling down, Isaias’ winds should begin reaching southeast Florida early Saturday evening into late night, leaving some extra time for preparations.
On the forecast track, the center of the storm will be off the coast of southeast Florida at near sunrise Sunday. It is expected to move over the Central Bahamas Saturday morning and near or over the northwestern Bahamas later Saturday.
By 2 p.m. Sunday, the center of the storm is forecast to be off the coast of Port St. Lucie. Its crawl north puts it off the coast of Daytona Beach predawn Monday when it will then start to move away from shore. Although Jacksonville remained in the cone of uncertainty early Saturday, the center of Isaias was forecast to stay farther off the coast.
Westerly wind shear and a lick of dry air is fighting Isaias – a combination that should keep the storm from intensyfing and evening weakening slightly as it nears Florida.
It is expected, however to maintain hurricane strength.
“This stuff is all still very much in flux,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis early Saturday about the track of the hurricane. “Even if the eye stays off the coast, there of course is going to be impacts when you are talking about hurricane or tropical storm winds.”
Jul 31 @ 11:25 PM – Here are the latest threats and impacts to South Florida from Hurricane #Isaias. Visit https://t.co/zk5C38GnEE for more information pic.twitter.com/GBCuGkSPCE
— NWS Miami (@NWSMiami) August 1, 2020
DeSantis said President Donald Trump approved a request for a federal disaster declaration, allowing for federal assistance if needed. He said 25 shelter kits with coronavirus protective gear for up to 400 people each for 96 hours were distributed to county emergency managers.
“It’s a really unique time in Florida’s history,” DeSantis noted.
Isaias’ power could fluctuate but is expected to top out as an 85 mph tropical cyclone.
A hurricane warning remains in effect for Boca Raton to the Volusia/Flagler county line, the northwestern Bahamas and the central Bahamas.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Hallandale Beach to south of Boca Raton.
A storm surge watch is in effect for the Jupiter Inlet to Ponte Vedra Beach. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Volusia/Flagler county line to Ponte Vedra Beach.
Lake Okeechobee is under a tropical storm warning.
The National Weather Service in Miami was expecting minimal ocean inundation of 1 to 3 feet. Rainfall also was not expected to be overwhelming in South Florida. At the high end, 5 inches was forecast for Jupiter, 4.5 inches in West Palm Beach and 4.3 inches in Boca Raton.
Storm surge could be more of a problem north of the Jupiter Inlet where 2 to 4 feet is expected through Ponte Vedra Beach.
Isaias’ ascent to hurricane status is another record-breaker for 2020. Just eight hurricane seasons since 1966 have had two or more hurricanes by July 31. It also broke the record for the earliest “I”-named storm, beating 2005′s Irene, which formed on Aug. 7. Climatologically, the “I”-named storm doesn’t typically arrive until Oct. 4.
If Isaias makes landfall in the U.S., it would be the second hurricane landfall in less than two weeks following Cat 1 Hanna’s hit on Texas on July 25.
Isaias firmed up its plans early Saturday compared to Friday when it wasn’t sure on where it was headed or how strong it would be.
It’s caught in a tug-of-war between the Bermuda High and a trough of low pressure scooping in from the U.S. It’s move closer to Florida happened because the trough is traveling slower than originally expected. Also an expected weakness in the Bermuda High isn’t quite as weak as forecasters first thought.