HATTERAS ISLAND, N.C. Tropical Storm Isaias was expected to strengthen into a hurricane on Monday as it barreled down on the Carolinas before heading up the U.S. East Coast toward Washington, Philadelphia and New York, the National Hurricane Center said.
Isaias was set to make landfall in southern North Carolina or northeastern South Carolina on Monday night, the NHC said in its latest bulletin. Sustained winds were at 70 miles per hour in later afternoon, just 4 miles per hour (6.4 kph) short of hurricane status.
“Only gradual weakening is anticipated after Isaias
makes landfall in the Carolinas and moves across the U.S.
mid-Atlantic region tonight and Tuesday,” the NHC said.
The storm poses an immediate threat to a stretch of coastline that includes the South Carolina tourist resort of Myrtle Beach and the North Carolina port city of Wilmington.
In a warning to the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center said: “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”
New York City is bracing for a storm surge in lower Manhattan, mindful of the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
While a few local officials on the coast ordered evacuations, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper also warned of inland flooding, as occurred with 2018’s Hurricane Florence, which killed 40 people and caused $17 billion in damage in the state.
Swift water rescue teams, high-water vehicles and helicopters were standing by, and storm shelters were preparing at least 115 square feet (10 square meters) per person to assure COVID-19 social distancing. Individual coronavirus testing sites will determine if they close, stay open or alter their testing hours, according to the state’s health department.
“North Carolinians have had to dig deep in recent months to tap into our strength and resilience during the pandemic … but we have to dig a little deeper. Let’s keep each other safe from the wind and water, as well as from the virus,” Cooper said.
Hattaras Island, a barrier island popular with tourists, was nearly deserted on Monday after officials ordered visitors and residents to leave, but some ignored the warnings.
Kevin Rowe, 63, of Indiana, was not about to let the storm cancel his family’s first visit to the Outer Banks.
“We’re a little bit of risk-takers,” said Rowe, who has been traveling the world for 11 years with his wife.
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