NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Hurricane Isaias has made landfall near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane touched down just after 11 p.m. on Monday with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.
Coastal shops and restaurants closed early, power began to flicker at oceanfront hotels and even the most adventurous of beachgoers abandoned the sand Monday night as newly restrengthened Hurricane Isaias sped toward the Carolinas.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned oceanside home dwellers to brace for storm surge up to 5 feet and up to 8 inches of rain in spots, as Isaias moved up the coast. The Carolinas weren’t the only states at risk.
“All those rains could produce flash flooding across portions of the eastern Carolinas and mid-Atlantic, and even in the northeast U.S.,” said Daniel Brown, senior hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center. A tropical storm warning extended all the way up to Maine, where flash flooding was possible in some areas on Wednesday.
The center also warned of possible tornadoes in North Carolina on Monday night and early Tuesday, and from eastern Virginia to southern New England later Tuesday.
Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs) was upgraded again from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane at 11 p.m. EDT. The storm was centered about 40 miles east northeast of Myrtle Beach. It was moving north northeast at 22 mph. The Hurricane Center said it expected the storm to make landfall early Tuesday near southern North Carolina.
Isaias killed two people in the Caribbean and roughed up the Bahamas but remained at sea as it brushed past Florida over the weekend, providing some welcome relief to emergency managers who had to accommodate mask-wearing evacuees in storm shelters.
President Donald Trump on Monday described Isaias as “very serious.”
“Storm surge and inland flooding are possible and everyone needs to remain vigilant until it passes,” Trump said.
Authorities in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, ordered swimmers out of the water to avoid rough surf and strong rip currents. By nightfall, power began to flicker at beachfront hotels as Isaias crossed the last bit of warm water on its path toward the U.S. mainland.
Still, on this part of the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts that has been affected to varying degrees by seven tropical storms or hurricanes since 2014, residents weren’t panicking.
“It’s just going to be a lot of wind and high tide,” said Mike Fuller, who has lived along the coast for more than a decade.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents on Monday that the storm could be dangerous regardless of its strength. He urged those evacuating to turn to shelters as a last resort, citing coronavirus risks and the need to operate shelters at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing.
“Whether it’s labeled a tropical storm or a hurricane, you should take this storm seriously, and make sure your family is ready,” Cooper said.