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Isaias drawing closer to the Southeast U.S. coast

Hurricane Isaias Track
National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Isaias is moving northwestward putting it on a course to draw very near or over the east coast of Florida Saturday night through Sunday before turning northward to near the South Carolina coast Monday afternoon and evening.

As of the mid-morning Saturday advisory from the National Hurricane Center, top sustained winds were near 85 mph as it moved near the eastern portion of Andros Island in the Bahamas. Isaias is moving steadily toward the northwest near 12 mph, which is somewhat slower than its forward motion on Friday. 

Data from reconnaissance missions and satellite imagery were showing dry air in the mid-levels of the atmosphere and strong wind shear. These factors are causing the strongest winds to favor the northern and eastern sides of the storm. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows Isaias maintaining hurricane intensity as it nears Florida, but weakens it to a tropical storm as it approaches South Carolina because of the unfavorable environment ahead of it.

If Isaias moves close enough to bring tropical storm winds to the state, areas near Hilton Head, Beaufort, and Charleston would be the first to experience them on Monday morning. The Grand Strand area may see tropical storm force winds Monday afternoon or evening based on the latest forecast.

Forecasters say high surf and rip currents are expected to arrive ahead of the storm this weekend. 2 to 4 inches of rain, with local amounts as high as 6 inches, and minor river flooding are possible, the Hurricane Center said as of its Saturday morning advisory. Forecast models are suggesting that the Lowcountry, Pee Dee, and Grand Strand are the most likely areas to feel effects from the storm on Monday. Fewer or no impacts are anticipated over the Midlands and particularly the Upstate if the latest forecasts hold.

Conditions are likely to improve late Monday night or Tuesday in eastern South Carolina as Isaias moves northward toward the Mid Atlantic and Northeastern United States.