VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Bands of heavy rain from Isaias lashed Florida’s east coast Sunday, with the tropical storm strengthening slightly in the evening on its way up the Eastern seaboard.
Officials dealing with surging cases of the coronavirus in Florida kept a close watch on the storm that was weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm Saturday afternoon, but still brought heavy rain and flooding to Florida’s Atlantic coast.
The National Hurricane Center advised at 5 p.m. ET Sunday that the storm was about 65 miles off the midpoint of Florida’s east coast, and about 410 miles south of Myrtle Beach, S.C.
It was strengthening slightly with sustained winds just under a Category 1 hurricane, taking a north-northwest path, according to the center.
“Don’t be fooled by the downgrade,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned at a news conference after the storm — pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs — spent hours roughing up the Bahamas.
Upper-level winds took much of the strength out of Isaias, said Stacy Stewart, senior hurricane specialist at the hurricane center in Miami.
“We were expecting a hurricane to develop and it didn’t,” Stewart said Sunday. “It’s a tale of two storms. If you live on the west side of the storm, you didn’t get much. If you live east of the storm, there’s a lot of nasty weather there.”
Authorities closed beaches, parks and virus testing sites, lashing signs to palm trees so they wouldn’t blow away. DeSantis said the state is anticipating power outages and asked residents to have a week’s supply of water, food and medicine on hand.