NEWS

Massive Tropical Storm Isaias may reach parts of Florida by this weekend

Tropical Storm Isaias, now lashing Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic with wind and rain, is expected to be near hurricane strength with 70 mph winds as it approaches Florida’s east coast over the next few days, forecasters said.

The projected path of the storm continues to keep most of Florida in its possible track.

Isaias is a massive cyclone with tropical-storm-force winds extending up to 310 miles from its center. Portions of Florida could start feeling tropical-storm-force winds as early as Friday night, but more likely Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said residents could feel the impacts from the storm into early next week. He encouraged everyone to prepare by having at least seven days of supplies.

Landfall in Florida is not absolute at this point, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. There is still room for the storm to turn east of Florida and the Carolinas.

Whether Isaias will have a major impact on Florida depends on whether it moves over Hispaniola, where it could fall apart, said AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno.

On Thursday, Isaias’ rain was unleashing small landslides and causing widespread flooding and power outages across Puerto Rico.

The storm knocked out power to more than 400,000 customers across Puerto Rico, according to the island’s Electric Power Authority. Minor damage was reported elsewhere in the island, where tens of thousands of people still use tarps as roofs over homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

As of 2 p.m. ET, Isaias had 60 mph winds and was centered about about 95 miles west-northwest of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, according to the hurricane center.

It was moving west northwest at 20 mph, and its center was expected to move over Hispaniola (which consists of the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic) later on Thursday and near the southeastern Bahamas by early Friday.

Isaias is the earliest ninth Atlantic named storm to form in an Atlantic hurricane season, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous record was Irene on Aug. 7, 2005, Klotzbach tweeted.

So far this year, Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard, Fay, Gert and Hanna have also been the earliest named Atlantic storms for their alphabetic order.

 

This article was originally published by Doyle Rice, usatoday.com

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