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Heavy rain, wind expected late tonight in south, central Florida as Hurricane Isaias tracks toward east coast

By CJ HADDAD - | Jul 31, 2020

For the first time in an already busy Atlantic Hurricane Season, a hurricane is expected to affect Florida.

Good news for Southwest Florida residents is that current models see the east coast of the state and country more likely to get the brunt of the storm.

Category 1 Hurricane Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs) upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane from Thursday to Friday and as of 11 a.m. has sustained winds of 75 mph.

Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Hurricane Center reported at 11 a.m. on July 31 that Isaias may begin to affect Florida’s east coast beginning Saturday morning.

“Tropical storm conditions are expected with hurricane conditions possible along portions of the Florida east coast beginning Saturday, and a Tropical Storm Warning and Hurricane Watch are in effect,” read the 11 a.m. update. “Storm surge watches or warnings could be needed for part of this area this afternoon.

“Heavy rains associated with Isaias may begin to affect south and east-central Florida 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.

“There is a risk of impacts from winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surge beginning late this weekend along the northeastern Florida coast and spreading northward along the remainder of the U.S. east coast through early next week.”

NHC’s most recent imaging shows the Southwest Florida area clear out of the “cone” but could see 1-4 inches of rain according to radar imaging.

As of the center’s 11 a.m. update, a Hurricane Watch is in effect for north of Deerfield Beach to the Volusia-Brevard County line. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Lake Okeechobee and north of Ocean Reef northward to Sebastian Inlet.

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

“Lee County continues to monitor the tropical storm,” said Lee County spokesperson Tim Engstrom on Wednesday, when Isaias was still a tropical storm. “It’s too early to tell if it will have any impacts to Florida, but as we near the peak of hurricane season, now is a great time for residents to review their hurricane plan and check their disaster supply kit.”

According to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. Isaias is the earliest ninth Atlantic named storm to form. The previous record was Irene on Aug. 7, 2005, Klotzbach reported via Twitter.

So far, 2020 has broken many records for named storms that includes Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard, Fay, Gert and Hanna — which have also been the earliest named Atlantic storms for their alphabetic order.

Lee County has provided information about preparedness, including videos and print materials at www.leegov.com/hurricane.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj