Isaias Strengthens into a Hurricane; Uncertainty Remains on Track Near South Carolina
11 AM Update: Isaias is still a Category 1 hurricane, although maximum sustained winds have weakened slightly, to 75 mph. The center of Isaias is about 300 miles southeast of Nassau, and storm motion has slowed a bit, to 16 mph. Isaias is expected to continue slowing down over the next few days, but should remain a Category 1 hurricane as it tracks near Florida on Saturday and Sunday. In Florida, a Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Gold Coast from southern Palm Beach to northern Brevard county. A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued from the northern Florida Keys to Sebastien.
Isaias attained hurricane status early Friday morning and it is poised to make a close pass at the Southeast U.S. coastline this weekend and early next week.
As of the mid-morning Friday advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Isaias had top sustained winds of 80 mph. It is moving toward the northwest at about 17 mph. The hurricane is moving through the southeastern Bahamas and will continue to move through the island chain Friday into Friday night.
The latest forecast track takes the center of Isaias near or just offshore of the Florida east coast this weekend. Southwesterly wind shear was causing the strongest winds and heaviest rain to be displaced to the east of the center of the hurricane based on satellite imagery and reconnaissance aircraft reports. Isaias is forecast to turn northward Sunday and Monday near or just offshore of the coasts of Northeast Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. In its early morning forecast discussion, the Hurricane Center said that there is a risk of surge, heavy rainfall, and strong winds in these areas through early next week, but that it was too soon to determine the magnitude of the impacts because of the uncertainty in the storm's path.
As a result of the lopsided nature of the hurricane and the usual uncertainty in the forecast track, it is not clear whether hurricane conditions will make it to the South Carolina coast. However, tropical storm conditions could make it to areas near Hilton Head and Charleston overnight Sunday and to near the Grand Strand on Monday morning based on the most likely forecast track and forward motion.