Isaias is expected to strengthen and hit as a hurricane.
Tropical Storm Isaias is predicted to make landfall near the South Carolina and North Carolina border on Monday night as a hurricane, with forecasters warning of heavy rainfall and powerful winds along the strengthening storm’s path.
Flash floods, storm surges and even tornadoes are possible, the National Hurricane Center said. And the storm is expected to weaken only slowly after it makes landfall, posing a continued threat inland.
Over the weekend, Isaias buffeted Florida’s eastern edge with heavy rainfall and powerful winds, yet it failed to deliver the punch that state officials had feared. At 11 a.m. Eastern time, the storm was about 90 miles off the coast of Brunswick, Ga., with sustained maximum winds of 70 m.p.h., according to the National Hurricane Center.
Along Isaias’ projected course, officials have told residents to prepare themselves, and businesses are concerned about how much damage the storm will bring.
“It’s a wait-and-see game,” said Jay Slevin, the manager of a pizzeria about a mile from the shore in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where the center of the storm appeared to be heading.
The storm, the ninth to be named in what has become a busy hurricane season, has come at a time when many people in the Southeast are already beleaguered by the coronavirus outbreak. Officials in the region are juggling the response to a storm with a pandemic, and business owners are wary of being dealt yet another crippling blow.
Isaias, which is written as Isaías in Spanish and pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs, clobbered the Bahamas with hurricane conditions over the weekend after hitting parts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Forecasters said some minor fluctuations in the strength of the storm were possible over the next few days, and they posted hurricane warnings for areas in its immediate path, and tropical storm warnings and watches all the way to Maine.
The Carolinas now face the dual threat of the storm and the virus.
The center of Isaias is projected to hit the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts later on Monday, and then drive inland over North Carolina on Monday night, according to the National Hurricane Center forecast.
Rainfall will range from three to six inches in most areas, with a few areas getting up to eight inches — enough to produce flash flooding. Myrtle Beach will probably see the brunt of the storm on Monday night, when the rain will increase and the risk of flash floods will be greatest. There could also be a storm surge of two to four feet, and a possibility of tornadoes.
Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina said on Friday that he had no plans to call for evacuations. But North Carolina has declared a state of emergency.
“We’re asking North Carolinians in the storm’s path to make sure they are prepared,” Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina said in a briefing on Sunday afternoon.
He cautioned residents to keep taking steps to avoid the coronavirus. North Carolina has more than 125,000 diagnosed cases, and at least 1,969 people have died, according to state data.
“This time, pack your masks and hand sanitizers in your kit and remember to social distance,” said Mr. Cooper, a Democrat, adding that such precautions are “just as important during the storm as they ever were.”
The Northeast can expect a soaking, too.
Much of the East Coast of the United States will get a soaking, forecasters say. The National Hurricane Center said on Monday that tropical storm warnings and watches are in effect all way up the Eastern Seaboard, including Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and Stonington, Maine.
With three to six inches expected across the eastern Carolinas and Virginia and isolated areas getting up to eight inches, significant flash floods and urban flooding is can be expected through the middle of the week, and widespread minor to moderate river flooding is possible in the region.
The Middle Atlantic states, southeastern New York and New England can also expect a few inches of rain.
Heavy rainfall in northeast New Jersey, New York City and the lower Hudson Valley was expected to begin late Monday night, building into heavier downpours by Tuesday afternoon and evening, according to Matthew Wunsch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Emergency management officials in New York City said the storm might bring three to six inches of rain in some areas.
“Flooding is probably one the biggest threats with this,” Mr. Wunsch said.
Winds are expected to pick up on Tuesday afternoon, he said. Sustained winds could be between 30 to 45 m.p.h., with gusts up to 65 m.p.h.
Tuesday night could bring the possibility of flooding along the southern coast of Long Island and the New Jersey coastline near New York City, Mr. Wunsch said. He said coastal flooding was expected to coincide with high tide, which is between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Tuesday, bringing an additional one to two feet of storm surge.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that the state was deploying high-water vehicles, pumps and generators to areas that might be affected by the storm.
Storm surge could also bring high water into Lower Manhattan, according to the New York City Emergency Management Department, and officials are deploying sand bags and other barriers in the area.
Reporting was contributed by Rebecca Halleck, Patricia Mazzei, Rick Rojas and Mihir Zaveri.