Hurricane Isaias was downgraded to a tropical storm as it made landfall and moved inland over North Carolina late on Monday, threatening southeastern Virginia with strong winds, heavy rainfall and tornadoes.
The storm is sweeping north and posing the second tropical threat in a month to New York state.
Isaias, which might cause US$1.5 billion in losses, earlier prompted tropical storm and hurricane warnings from South Carolina to Maine, including Manhattan, with the flood threat reaching well inland and as far north as Vermont, the US National Weather Service said.
Seawater flowed into streets on the border between the Carolinas, leaving locals to wade through the flooded areas as rain and strong winds whipped the palm trees.
Three hours after reaching the coast, Isaias was downgraded to a Tropical Storm, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said yesterday.
Temporary flood barriers and sandbags have been deployed in New York City, particularly in the Wall Street area, to defend against the storm thrusting sea water into streets.
“We don’t think we’re going to see severe impacts from this storm, but out of an over-abundance of caution, we’ll put in several pieces in place,” New York City Commissioner of Emergency Management Deanne Criswell said.
Isaias was set to reach New York late yesterday and then drift off to northern New England and Quebec, where it was expected to fall apart by tomorrow.
The storm warning for New York City is the second this year after the city was threatened by Tropical Storm Fay early last month.
“There is certainly going to be some flooding in the eastern US,” said Don Keeney, a meteorologist with private forecaster Maxar.
Isaias is the fifth storm to strike the contiguous US this year. That makes it the earliest that tally has been reached in records going back to 1851, beating the previous mark set in 1916 by 15 days, said Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University.
In 1916, though, the storms that hit were stronger than most of this year’s. The most storms ever to hit the US was nine, also in 1916.
North Carolina has opened shelters for people looking to flee the storm and will screen for COVID-19 symptoms, sending anyone who tests positive to another location where they can be isolated and receive medical attention, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a tweet.
Isaias’ more westerly track will throw more cities in its path, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research. Overall, the storm should inflict about US$1.5 billion in damage and losses as it sweeps north.
“If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time on the immediate coast of North Carolina, you could experience hurricane-force winds,” Watson said. “But it’s not likely.”
While forecasters track Isaias, they are also watching another patch of thunderstorms near the Caribbean Leeward Islands that have a 60 percent chance of becoming the season’s next storm in five days, the hurricane center said.
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