VERO BEACH, Fla.—Bands of heavy rain from Isaias lashed Florida’s east coast Sunday, with the tropical storm strengthening slightly in the evening on its way up the Eastern seabord.
Officials dealing with surging cases of the coronavirus in Florida kept a close watch on the storm that was weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm Saturday afternoon, but could strengthen into a hurricane on approach to the Carolinas on Monday. The system still brought heavy rain and flooding to Florida’s Atlantic coast.
The National Hurricane Center advised at 2 a.m. EDT Monday that the storm was about 330 miles (530 kilometers) south of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.
It was strengthening slightly with sustained winds just under a Category 1 hurricane, taking a north-northwest path, according to the center.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds declined steadily throughout Saturday, and were at 65 mph (100 kph) at 2 p.m. ET Sunday, before crawling back up to 70 mph a few hours later, the hurricane center said.
“The center of Isaias will move offshore of the coast of Georgia and southern South Carolina on Monday, move inland over eastern North Carolina Monday night and move along the coast of the mid-Atlantic states on Tuesday,” according to the hurricane center.
A Tropical Storm Watch has been extended northward to Watch Hill, Rhode Island, including the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, Long Island and Long Island Sound.
The storm did not affect the successful return of two astronauts aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule, which splashed down into calm waters in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola. Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rode the capsule back to Earth less than a day after departing the International Space Station and two months after blasting off from Florida.
Isaias already has caused destruction in the Caribbean: On Thursday, before it became a hurricane, it uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. One man died in the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floods that swept away one woman, whose body was recovered Saturday.
Isaias snapped trees and knocked out power as it blew through the Bahamas on Saturday.
Officials in the Bahamas opened shelters for people in Abaco island to help those who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people in September 2019.
By Wilfredo Lee and Danica Coto