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Storm Isaias brushes off Florida, heads up East Coast

Isaias, downgraded from a hurricane but still a powerful tropical storm, churned offshore east of the central coast of Florida on Sunday, packing strong winds and rain. The storm is forecast to move upward along the East Coast and reach Washington, Philadelphia and New York City on Tuesday before moving into New England.

Reuters | Florida | Updated: 03-08-2020 01:50 IST | Created: 03-08-2020 01:31 IST
Storm Isaias brushes off Florida, heads up East Coast
Representative image Image Credit: Wikimedia

Isaias, downgraded from a hurricane but still a powerful tropical storm, churned offshore east of the central coast of Florida on Sunday, packing strong winds and rain.

The storm is forecast to move upward along the East Coast and reach Washington, Philadelphia and New York City on Tuesday before moving into New England. By 2 p.m. (1800 GMT), Tropical Storm Isaias was about 45 miles (90 km) east-southeast of Vero Beach, Florida heading northwest with top sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (100 kph), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

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 center 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.

The Palm Beach area, where President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort is located, emerged largely unscathed from the storm after it brushed off its coast, with authorities reporting no widespread damage and no flooding. "We still are experiencing some winds," Lisa DeLaRionda, a spokeswoman for Palm Beach County, said on Sunday. "However, based on the latest forecast, those winds should be dying down early afternoon."

Although it appeared that Isaias' impact on Florida would not be severe, the storm provided local emergency management with a "real-world scenario" of what extreme weather preparation and response could look like in the midst of a public health emergency as the states battles the coronavirus pandemic, DeLaRionda said. Tropical storm warnings and watches were in effect for parts of Florida, South and North Carolina, the NHC said.

Storm surges, when a storm pushes tidal levels above normal, of up to 4 feet (1.22 m), and flooding also threatened some of the areas in Isaias' path, forecasters said. As the storm slowly moved north along the coast, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Isaias had turned more inland, increasing the threat of heavy rain, flash flooding and tornadoes in the eastern part of the state.

"Right now, we expect the heaviest rain along the I-95 corridor with as much as seven inches in some places," Cooper told a news conference on Sunday. Isaias did not affect the return home on Sunday of two NASA astronauts, who rode to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's new Crew Dragon.

They splashed down in the capsule in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday after a two-month voyage that was NASA's first crewed mission from home soil in nine years. Isaias 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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