Tropical Storm Watch Issued for South Florida Ahead of Hurricane Isaías This Weekend
Friday morning update: 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.
Tropical Storm Watches were posted from Ocean Reef to Sebastien Inlet, Florida in anticipation of the possibility of tropical storm force conditions on Saturday. 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. 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 Florida east coast. However, tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area as of the Friday morning forecast in anticipation of at least tropical storm force winds this weekend.
Original story published Thursday afternoon is below this line.
Tropical Storm Isaías is forecast to become a hurricane by the time it approaches the Atlantic Coast of Florida Saturday. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from Ocean Reef to Sebastian Inlet, or roughly from Miami to Fort Pierce.
As of 5 pm Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Isaías could be strengthening, despite experiencing some interaction with the mountainous island of Hispañiola. Forecasters also noted that the center may be reforming on the north side of island where stronger thunderstorms have formed. As Isaías pulls away from the island, further strengthening is anticipated for at least the next 36 hours.
Isaías is expected to continue moving toward the northwest near 20 mph, exiting Hispaniola and approaching the southwestern Bahamas Friday. A decrease in forward speed is possible Saturday, at which point it would be sitting over very warm waters in the Gulf Stream between Miami and The Bahamas. However, also at this time, there are mixed signals from forecast model simulations on how strong upper-level winds may be. It's possible that Isaías' intensification might be slowed or even halted by these winds.
In the National Hurricane Center's "Key Messages" released Thursday afternoon, Senior Hurricane Specialist Dan Brown said there is a risk of rain, wind and storm surge impacts from Isaías in parts of Florida, but that it was still "too soon to determine the magnitude and location" of those hazards. Even though the newest information suggests the center of the storm would stay offshore, residents from the First Coast to Miami are urged to stay vigilant and monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Isaías.
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