Isaias forecast to reach hurricane strength, make landfall in Myrtle Beach Monday
Posted July 27, 2020 10:38 a.m. EDT
Updated August 3, 2020 1:51 p.m. EDT
The 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center shows Isaias will reach top winds of 70 mph before quickly moving north across the Interstate 95 corridor.
Counties from the Triangle eastward are under a tropical storm warning, where 3 to 6 inches of rain and tropical storm force winds are likely, and storm surge warnings are in effect for the entire coast.
While thunderstorms and rain are likely all afternoon, WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said conditions will deteriorate in central North Carolina around midnight.
Between midnight and noon on Tuesday, fallen trees, power outages and flash flooding will all be possible, and people are advised to stay home.
"This is going to be pretty dangerous since it is happening while people are sleeping," Wilmoth said.
WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said Tropical Storm Isaias is moving very quickly -- which is good, because heavy rain won't sit in one place for a long period of time like it did with Florence and Matthew.
"This is a fast-moving storm," Gardner said. "It will be in New Jersey by tomorrow afternoon."
Because of the storm's westerly track, rain and winds will be worse in the Sandhills, not at the coast. Gardner said areas along and east of the track, which carries the center through Sampson, Wayne and Edgecombe counties, could see winds gusting up to 75 mph.
Some counties east of the Triangle, including Johnson, Cumberland, Wayne, Sampson and Duplin, are under a level 2 risk for severe weather Monday as Tropical Storm Isaias gets closer to North Carolina. The Triangle is under a level 1 risk.
By 3 a.m. Tuesday, Isaias could be passing the Triangle. The bulk of the storm will be out of North Carolina by the early afternoon.
According to Gardner, while fast-moving Isaias will bring heavy rain, it will not be a repeat of Matthew, Florence or Floyd, which all produced double-digit rainfall totals. However, there will be some flash flooding and the Neuse, Cape Fear and Tar rivers could rise to moderate or even major flood stages briefly.
Three coastal counties -- Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender -- are now under a hurricane warning as Isaias moves closer to North Carolina.
Expect some damage to roofs and mobile homes, as well as downed trees and power outages. Some bridges and roads may be blocked from downed trees as the storm approaches.
"For North Carolina this is shaping up to be as much a wind event as a rain event," said Gardner. "The storm will move through very quickly with gusts from Raleigh eastward anywhere from 50 to 70 mph. This will knock down trees and cause power outages."
Impact greatest in the Triangle
At 8 p.m. Monday, the storm will be nearing South Carolina's coast. After that, the latest models predict that landfall is possible along the South Carolina line near Brunswick County beaches -- including Sunset Beach, Holden Beach and Ocean Isle.
Models show the storm will move up the I-95 corridor after it makes landfall. This means the storm won't be as big of a deal for the Outer Banks, which are usually hit by storms hard.
"The impact will be greatest right here in the Triangle," Gardner said.
Residents are urged to prepare for possible heavy rain, high wind and power outages by:
- Securing loose outdoor furniture and decorations that may fly away in strong winds.
- Preparing an emergency kit with non-perishable food, bottled water and enough medication for three days.
- Charging cell phones and filling up gas tanks.
- Having cash on hand in case of power/internet outages. Stores, including gas stations, may not be able to accept credit card payments in the event of power/internet outages.
- Advice from Raleigh storm victim: Take photos of belongings
Sheltering 'a last resort' during a pandemic
Gov. Roy Cooper and State Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry said, due to COVID-19, shelters should be a last resort for people who need to leave their homes.
Shelters, as they open, will screen evacuees for COVID-19 symptoms.
"If they have symptoms, then they're going to be sent somewhere to be isolated, depending on their condition," Sprayberry said. "It could be a hotel, it could be a medical facility."
The state had prepared Sandhills Regional Medical Center in Hamlet to handle a surge of coronavirus patients, Sprayberry said, and that would be called into service should it be necessary as a medical shelter.
Cooper has activated up to 150 National Guard soldiers to help with preparations. Several water rescue teams are ready to support impacted communities, and PPE is being provided to our responders to enable them to operate within a COVID-19 environment.
Officials encouraged the public, saying North Carolina is as prepared as ever for the storm, “But this time we’re going to have to do it with a mask on.”
Emergency officials said to check ReadyNC.org for complete list of items that should be included in an emergency kit.
The Red Cross needs young people like college students to help as volunteers.