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 136 km/h.
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 1.5 metres and up to 20 cm of rain, 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 was upgraded again from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane at 11 p.m. ET. The storm was centred about 64 kilometres east northeast of Myrtle Beach.
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.
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.
Trees and power lines knocked down
As the storm neared the shore, a gauge on a pier in Myrtle Beach recorded its third highest water level since it was set up in 1976. Only Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 pushed more salt water inland.
Oceanfront streets throughout the area flooded as the sea ended up nearly 3 metres above low tide.
Up the coast in southern North Carolina, high winds from Isaias’ inner core knocked down trees and power lines, blocking roads. No major damage was initially reported.
Shops and restaurants appeared quieter than usual for a summertime Monday in North Myrtle Beach, but locals blamed COVID-19 more than Isaias. No businesses were boarding up their windows, although some moved outside furniture inside.
Isaias’ passage near Florida over the weekend was particularly unwelcome to authorities already dealing with surging coronavirus caseloads. The storm brought heavy rain and flooding to the state, forcing authorities to close outdoor virus testing sights, as well as beaches and parks. Officials lashed signs to palm trees so they wouldn’t blow away.