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Tropical Storm Isaias to roar through the Northeast today

Tropical Storm Isaias, Tuesday satellite image.
Tropical Storm Isaias, Tuesday satellite image. (CIRA/RAMMB)

Hurricane Isaias dramatically strengthened just before it came ashore near the South Carolina/North Carolina border last night. Winds gusted over 85 mph on the North Carolina coast south of Wilmington. The ocean water was pushed over the coastline and extremely heavy rain moved inland.  We’ll learn today if there was damage in the Carolinas.

In South Florida, we are left with a tropical air mass, meaning super humidity and extra-heavy thunderstorms will continue in the forecast.

Now our attention turns to the Mid-Atlantic states and the Northeast. The storm will stay quite strong as it tracks over land from Virginia and to New England. An unusually strong jet stream is energizing the circulation as it speeds north, and also adding extra gustiness to the peak winds.

Multiple tornado warnings have already been issued in the Mid-Atlantic states this morning, with more to come as the storm moves north.

Besides the tornadoes, winds will be strong enough to take down trees and power lines in a corridor from Virginia through the Jersey Shore, southeast New York, and into New England. This could be doubly disruptive for people working at home due to the pandemic.

In New York City, winds will be treacherous on the avenues running north-south when the storm goes by in the afternoon. People living in high rises should clear their balconies, if they have one, stay off rooftops or roof decks, and stay inside away from windows exposed to potential flying debris off other buildings upwind. 

High profile vehicles on elevated roadways and bridges will be especially vulnerable. Winds are forecast to gust to hurricane force.

It will be especially windy at the coast from Virginia to New England. The south-facing beaches of Long Island, New York appear especially vulnerable since the south wind will have the longest fetch off the ocean. Precautions should be taken to avoid flying debris with every effort made to bring things that might blow around inside. 

Storm surge is not a huge concern in the Northeast because the storm is moving so fast. Water may rise a couple of feet above normal high tide, but luckily the peak winds will likely arrive in the afternoon when the tide is relatively low.

Tropical Storm Isaias, Tuesday Flash Flooding Threat.
Tropical Storm Isaias, Tuesday Flash Flooding Threat. (NOAA)

Water will also rise in all of the bays and sounds of the Northeast and New England through the day, including on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. 

Inland, an area of very heavy rain will parallel I-95 from the Carolinas to New England. Significant flash flooding is forecast in a large swath just west of the urban corridor. The storm will be moving quickly, so the rain won’t last, but a lot will come in a short period of time. 

Seek out the latest forecasts and emergency information. Things will change fast today. And note the Key Messages from the National Hurricane Center in the latest advisory.

Save yourself some grief: 1) Park your car away from big trees, even if it’s down the street; 2) Keep everything charged. If the power goes out, it will buy you time; and 3) Stay home. 

8 a.m. Tuesday, Tropical Storm Isaias advisory.
8 a.m. Tuesday, Tropical Storm Isaias advisory. (www.HurricaneIntel.com)

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