Hurricane Isaias Forms, Threatens To Brush Florida's East Coast This Weekend
A hurricane warning was in effect for portions of the Bahamas on Friday morning as Isaias has swelled into a hurricane that could further strengthen while threatening to brush the east Florida coast this weekend.
Hurricane Isaias became a Category 1 hurricane in the warm Caribbean waters overnight following its pass over mountainous Hispaniola, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The second hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has maximum sustained winds near 80 mph, with higher gusts, while producing strong winds and flooding rains over the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
A tropical storm watch also is in effect for Florida’s east coast, from Ocean Reef in the Florida Keys to Sebastian Inlet in Brevard County – including Lake Okeechobee – as Isaias maintains its northwesterly to northerly track just off the Florida coast and along the U.S. East Coast.
As of 8 a.m., the center of Isaias was located about 340 miles southeast of Nassau, Bahamas, and moving northwest at 17 mph. On its current track, Isaias will slow down over the next two days before turning toward the north this weekend.
Forecasters say the storm should maintain hurricane strength as it passes the Bahamas -- portions of which are still recovering from Hurricane Dorian -- on Friday night and approaches Florida on Saturday and through the weekend before making its way past the Carolinas into early next week.
“It isn’t clear whether the center of Isaias will move directly over the Atlantic coast, but it looks like it will come plenty close enough to bring effects as soon as Saturday with some rain bands in Southeast Florida and rough seas,” said Ray Hawthorne, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network. “The hurricane is forecast to move parallel to the Florida coast and toward the Carolinas later Sunday into Monday.”
Forecasters say conditions remain favorable for Isaias to further strengthen into a Category 2 storm over the next 24 hours, and a western Atlantic subtropical ridge and mid-level ridge near the Carolinas could determine how close it approaches the coastal areas of Florida and the mid-Atlantic.
Either way, southern and east-central Florida should experience heavy rains that could cause flash flooding starting Friday night, and tropical storm conditions along portions of the east coast on Saturday.
The greater Tampa Bay region will see increased rain chances associated with Isaias this weekend as it moves to the north, according to the National Weather Service.
Sandbags Available In Polk County
Sandbags will be made available for Polk County residents Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. They will be limited to 10 per vehicle:
- Mulberry: 900 NE 5th St.
- Lakeland: 8970 N. Campbell Rd.
- Fort Meade: 1061 NE 9th St.
- Frostproof: 350 County Road 630A
- Auburndale: 1701 Holt Rd.
- Dundee: 805 Dr. Martin Luther King St. SW
Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.
Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7. To see more, visit .