August 1, 2020

Hurricane Warnings Continue For Florida As Struggling Isaias Approaches Land

Hurricane warnings remain in effect for much of eastern Florida this afternoon as Tropical Storm Isaias begins to move away from The Bahamas. The storm is struggling against a stream of dry air and wind shear trying to tear its convection apart, but it wouldn't take much reorganization to regain some of its strength. Florida will begin feeling the effects of the storm tonight into Monday before the system accelerates up the East Coast through the middle of the week.

Isaias is a resilient storm. The storm lost some of its strength and organization on Saturday as dry air and wind shear chomped away at its structure. The "eye" of the storm was fully exposed at one point, shown above, looking more like a swirl of shampoo in a draining bathtub than an ominous hurricane.

It's tried to get its act together since then. As of about 7:00 PM EDT, strong thunderstorms are trying to redevelop on the northern side of the circulation, and it wouldn't take much organization to allow the storm to regain its footing. Satellite data and aircraft reconnaissance showed the storm teetering between 70 and 75 MPH late this afternoon, which is the line between tropical storm and hurricane. There's not much of a practical difference between a strong tropical storm and a minimal hurricane. Given the uncertainty and the storm's tenacity, tropical storm and hurricane conditions still appear likely over a large swath of the Florida Peninsula over the next 24-36 hours.

The 5:00 PM forecast from the National Hurricane Center calls for Isaias to regain hurricane strength as it comes perilously close to landfall in Florida. The storm will scrape Florida's east coast through Sunday evening before it moves back over open water toward the Carolinas. Watches and warnings will accompany the storm up the coast; remember that these advisories don't only exist along the shoreline, and hurricane and tropical storm force winds are possible well inland from the coast.

Heavy rain will remain the greatest threat from Isaias the farther north you go. The Weather Prediction Center's rainfall forecast this afternoon paints 3-5 inches of rain along the path of the storm, which covers almost the entire length of Interstate 95. This much rain falling this fast will lead to the potential for widespread flash flooding, especially in areas that have seen heavy thunderstorms recently.

[Satellite: NOAA]

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.