Isaias slammed into North Carolina late Monday night, bringing coastal and inland flooding that is expected to keep moving up the coast.
Isaias reached sustained winds of 85 mph and became a Category 1 hurricane before reaching land around 11:10 p.m. ET near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was downgraded to a tropical storm early Tuesday morning, with maximum sustained winds down to 70 mph.
But Isaias is still carrying dangerous, life-threatening conditions as it moves up the coast, said CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.
Howling wind and water washing across in “one to two foot swells” closed a bridge Monday night in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, the Sunset Beach Police said on Facebook. Streets in Holden Beach turned to rivers as water quickly rose, Jessi Viox told CNN.
“Getting ready for Round 2,” Viox said. “The eye has moved around us, and now here comes the back end.”
Brunswick County, North Carolina, reported “numerous calls” for water rescues, structural fires, structural collapses and people trapped in flooding houses,” Oak Island Water Rescue said on Facebook.
“Oak Island public safety officials have been, and will continue to be, up all night responding to distress calls,” the post said.
Before Isaias even made landfall, the top of the Apache Pier Pavilion was seen lifting off in the wind.
Nearly 245,000 customers were left without power after the storm reached the coast, according to PowerOutage.US. And multiple structures in Ocean Isle Beach were reported to be ablaze, according to the Horry County Fire Rescue in South Carolina.
A hurricane warning was in effect from the South Santee River area in South Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina, meaning hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, the hurricane center said.
Storm surge in some parts of the hurricane warning area is expected to reach up to 5 feet.
After pummeling the Carolinas, Isaias is forecast to gradually weaken as it brings strong winds Tuesday all along the East Coast, including in Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York. Philadelphia is forecast to see winds of 60 to 65 mph, while New York will see winds of 65 to 70 mph.
The storm could bring the strongest winds to New York City since Superstorm Sandy almost eight years ago, said Ross Dickman, the meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in New York.
“The wind and flooding impacts from Isaias will be similar to what the city has seen from some of the strongest coastal storms,” such as nor’easters — “but we haven’t seen one this strong in many years,” he said.
Curfews and evacuations in parts of North Carolina
Communities on North Carolina’s eastern coast, like Cape Fear, were given curfews Monday as Isaias drew closer, according to CNN affiliate WWAY-TV. Most of the curfews began around 5 and 6 p.m. Monday and were due to end between 6 and 9 a.m. Tuesday.
In other parts of the coast, citizens and tourists were evacuated. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NDOT) evacuated more than 3,000 people off Ocracoke Island Monday, CNN affiliate WAVY-TV reported.
“The most important thing is to get out of harm’s way if you are told to evacuate. Try to have a plan to stay with friends or family outside the danger zone,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday.
On the mainland, citizens were stocking up supplies for the storm.
“You never know. We’ve been hit with worse surprises, so there really is no amount of over-preparations that you can do,” Eli Thompson, of Avon, told WAVY-TV.
High winds up to 70 mph are expected and could bring down power lines and trees. Tornadoes are also possible in North and South Carolina, each state’s emergency management department said.
Mid-Atlantic and East Coast prep for storm’s arrival
A tropical storm warning is in effect for much of the mid-Atlantic and East Coast after Isaias hits the Carolinas late Monday.
A tropical storm warning has been extended northward to Stonington, Maine. A warning south of the Savannah River on the Georgia-South Carolina border has been discontinued.
Storm surge warnings were in effect for Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to Cape Fear, North Carolina; Pamlico and Albemarle sounds in North Carolina, and Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, to the Virginia border.
The mid-Atlantic states should see effects of the storm Tuesday in the Delaware Bay, Tidal Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound.
By Wednesday morning, New Hampshire and Maine will see rain as a result of Isaias.
In Maryland, the storm’s impending arrival led Gov. Larry Hogan to suspend Covid-19 testing operations at community-based sites for Tuesday.
New York City is implementing interim flood measures in lower Manhattan, including installing temporary barriers to prevent flooding.