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Hurricane Isaias updates: The storm is battering the Bahamas as it moves toward Florida

Jul 31, 2020
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satellite friday 5 pm isaiassatellite friday 5 pm isaias
Satellite imagery of Hurricane Isaias shows it blowing through the Bahamas en route to Florida’s southeastern coast.

NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES-East

  • Hurricane Isaias was upgraded from a tropical storm to category 1 on Thursday night as wind speeds exceeded 74 mph.
  • The hurricane is currently over the Bahamas and moving northwest toward Florida.
  • Isaias is the second hurricane of the season, and the earliest named hurricane starting with “I” in history — names go in alphabetical order — ever to form. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hurricane Isaias, which battered the Caribbean on Thursday tropical storm, is whipping through the Bahamas. A hurricane warning is in effect for the southeast coast of Florida as the category 1 storm moves northwest. 

The storm was upgraded to a hurricane after its wind speeds exceeded 74 mph. Maximum sustained winds are still hovering around 75 mph.

isaias 5 pm friday warningisaias 5 pm friday warning
The probable path for Tropical Storm Isaias, along with current weather warnings and expected arrival times.

NOAA/NWS

Tracking Hurricane Isaias

As of 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, Isaias loomed over the central Bahamas, heading northwest at 15 mph. Hurricane conditions are expected there until Saturday. The storm is likely to strengthen as it passes over the Gulf Stream. 

Florida’s southeastern coast is slated to see heavy rains and wind starting Saturday morning, with up to 6 inches of rain over the weekend. The storm’s eye is expected to stay off the coast rather than making landfall in the state.

isaias color friday 5 pmisaias color friday 5 pm
This map charts Tropical Storm Isaias’ expected path, along with the expected arrival time of forceful winds and probable wind speeds in each region.

NOAA/NWS

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Friday morning for all of Florida’s east counties, from Miami-Dade to Nassau. 

The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane warnings for the southeast coast of Florida, from Boca Raton to the Volusia-Brevard county line, plus the northwestern, southeastern and central Bahamas. The agency also issued a hurricane watch for other sections of the Florida coast, from Hallendale Beach to Boca Raton as well as Volusia county’s coastline.

Where Isaias has hit already

As a tropical storm, Isaias swept through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where it flooded roads, felled trees, and caused landslides. It also led to hundreds of thousands of power outages for Puerto Rican residents.

Isaias broke records even before becoming a hurricane: It was the earliest named storm starting with “I” ever to form in a hurricane season. Because storms are named in alphabetical order, that means nine tropical storms have already formed — the first time that’s happened before August 1 since the US began recording hurricane data in the 19th century.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The season's first hurricane, Hanna, made landfall in southern Texas on July 25, with wind speeds reaching 90 mph. Forecasts for the season overall predict a high activity, with up to six major storms (category 3 or higher).” data-reactid=”57″>The season’s first hurricane, Hanna, made landfall in southern Texas on July 25, with wind speeds reaching 90 mph. Forecasts for the season overall predict a high activity, with up to six major storms (category 3 or higher).

The difference between a tropical storm and hurricane is wind speed: A tropical storm’s winds blow at a sustained 39 to 73 mph, whereas a hurricane’s winds are 74 mph or greater. 

US states in Isaias’ path are battling coronavirus outbreaks

Florida’s Division of Emergency Management closed state-run COVID-19 testing sites on Thursday evening, noting that the decision reflected “an abundance of caution to keep individuals operating and attending the sites safe.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Florida is currently dealing with the US's second-largest coronavirus outbreak (behind California), with more than 460,000 total cases and 6,500 deaths. Even before closing some testing sites, the state was experiencing testing delays and bottlenecks, with some residents waiting weeks for test results, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”61″>Florida is currently dealing with the US’s second-largest coronavirus outbreak (behind California), with more than 460,000 total cases and 6,500 deaths. Even before closing some testing sites, the state was experiencing testing delays and bottlenecks, with some residents waiting weeks for test results, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel. 

Various states in Isaias’s path have been discussing how to incorporate COVID-19 precautions into hurricane emergency planning since early June. South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), for example, has been working to provide shelter options for residents with specific medical needs, like ventilators. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""We, like much of the nation, have never conducted a hurricane operation during a pandemic, but we know that together, with our partners and with the help of all South Carolinians, we will be resilient in the face of these new challenges," Marshall Taylor, General Counsel for the DHEC, said in a June press release.” data-reactid=”65″>”We, like much of the nation, have never conducted a hurricane operation during a pandemic, but we know that together, with our partners and with the help of all South Carolinians, we will be resilient in the face of these new challenges,” Marshall Taylor, General Counsel for the DHEC, said in a June press release.

Isaias’ winds and rain are expected to hit South Carolina by Monday morning. 

Climate change leads to stronger, wetter hurricanes

Hurricanes have increased in intensity in recent years due to climate change. A 2013 study found that for each degree the planet warmed over the previous 40 years, the proportion of category 4 and 5 storms — the strongest hurricanes — increased by 25-30%.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In addition to making hurricanes stronger, climate change is also making them slower and wetter: Over the past 70 years, the speed of hurricanes and tropical storms has slowed about 10% on average, according to a 2018 study. Because hurricanes use warm water as fuel, they have more to feed on as oceans warm, and don’t dissipate as quickly. Slower hurricanes, like Dorian last year, can linger in an area and cause greater damage than a quicker one might.” data-reactid=”69″>In addition to making hurricanes stronger, climate change is also making them slower and wetter: Over the past 70 years, the speed of hurricanes and tropical storms has slowed about 10% on average, according to a 2018 study. Because hurricanes use warm water as fuel, they have more to feed on as oceans warm, and don’t dissipate as quickly. Slower hurricanes, like Dorian last year, can linger in an area and cause greater damage than a quicker one might.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="As the planet gets warmer, hurricanes are expected to grow even stronger and more frequent. Research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that each new decade over the last 40 years has brought an 8% increase in the chance that a storm turns into a major hurricane.” data-reactid=”70″>As the planet gets warmer, hurricanes are expected to grow even stronger and more frequent. Research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that each new decade over the last 40 years has brought an 8% increase in the chance that a storm turns into a major hurricane.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This is a developing story — check back for updates.” data-reactid=”71″>This is a developing story — check back for updates.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read the original article on Insider” data-reactid=”72″>Read the original article on Insider

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