Hurricane Isaias bringing heavy winds, rain to Bahamas as it takes aim at Florida

The storm is expected to move along or parallel to the east coast of Florida, and then eventually up the entire east coast next week.
By Kathryn Prociv

A hurricane watch was issued for parts of the Florida coast Friday as Hurricane Isaias takes aim at the Sunshine State.

Isaias — a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph — was located 295 miles southeast of Nassau and moving northwest at 16 mph, as of the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It is forecast to remain a Category 1 hurricane through the Bahamas, as it moves along or parallel to the east coast of Florida, and then eventually up the entire east coast through early next week.

A hurricane watch, which means hurricane conditions are possible, has been issued for portions of the Florida east coast from north of Deerfield Beach to the Volusia-Brevard county line. A tropical storm warning was issued for the Florida coast from north of Ocean Reef to Sebastian Inlet as well as for Lake Okeechobee.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the Bahamas, and a Tropical Storm Warning for the Turks and Caicos.

As Hurricane Isaias closes in on Florida, the state can expect tropical storm conditions by Friday night in the form of gusty winds and increasing tropical downpours. The big question mark for Florida remains if Isaias will make landfall on the state this weekend or stay just offshore. Regardless of landfall, heavy rain and strong winds will be possible Saturday and Sunday along the entire east coast. By Monday, 2-4 inches of rain could fall, with rainfall up to 6 inches in some spots. How much rain ultimately falls will depend on how close the center of the storm gets to Florida.

Before Isaias reaches Florida, however, it will lash parts of the Caribbean and the Bahamas on Friday with strong winds and torrential downpours.

Tropical storm conditions continued across portions of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Turks and Caicos on Friday morning. Hurricane conditions were expected to begin in the southeastern Bahamas by late Friday morning and spread into the central and northwestern Bahamas by Friday afternoon. A dangerous storm surge is forecast to raise water levels 3 to 5 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds in the Bahamas. In terms of rainfall, the Dominican Republic and northern Haiti could get 4-8 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 12 inches while the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos get 4-8 inches. These rainfall amounts will lead to flash flooding, mudslides, and river flooding.

For the Bahamas, Isaias comes less than one year since Hurricane Dorian battered the island chain for a relentless period of more than 48 hours.

Even after Isaias impacts the Bahamas and Florida this weekend, meteorologists will be tracking the storm through the middle of next week.

Heavy rain associated with Isaias is forecast to impact North and South Carolina by early next week. Rain and wind could then impact the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Isaias is a fairly large storm, so even if the center of the storm doesn't make landfall, a close approach to the coast could bring significant impacts. Hurricane-force winds extend 35 miles out from the center and tropical storm-force winds 205 miles out.

According to Phil Klotzbach, an Atlantic hurricane specialist at Colorado State University, when Isaias became a hurricane, it became the first time on record (going back to 1851) that the Atlantic Basin had two hurricane formations in the last week of July. This comes on the heels of Hurricane Hanna, which made landfall on the Texas coast on July 25.