Portions of Florida's east coast are now under a hurricane watch as Hurricane Isaias batters the Caribbean and makes its way toward the U.S. mainland. The 11 a.m. advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the system is currently approaching the Bahamas before it is predicted to reach Florida's Atlantic coast sometime between Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the developing disturbance was expected to reach tropical storm status as it moved west earlier this week, and that is exactly what happened before it grew even stronger and crossed into the threshold of hurricane status.
While the brunt of Isaias likely won't be felt in Florida until later in the weekend, Floridians can expect to start seeing heavy rains as early as Friday evening. Rainfall totals for the southern and central-eastern part of the state are expected to be between 2 and 4 inches, with isolated totals measuring as high as 6 inches. The NHS noted "these rainfall amounts could result in isolated flash and urban flooding, especially in low-lying and poorly drained areas."
It's not just heavy precipitation that is a concern, Isaias is also producing strong winds. Current sustained wind speeds are at 75 MPH, with reports of gusts even higher. The current model predicts the Sunshine State could see similar speeds at some of its eastern-most points, with areas further inland at risk for experiencing winds in the 40-60 MPH range.
As a result, a hurricane watch has been issued in Florida extending from Palm Beach to Brevard counties. This includes cities such as Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Port St. Lucie. A "watch" goes into effect when conditions are possible within an area versus a "warning," which means those conditions are expected. A storm watch is generally issued 48 hours before the predicted onset of those conditions.
Meteorologist Denis Phillips of ABC Action New in Tampa urged his Facebook followers who reside east of him to be cautious, while telling those that live in the Tampa Bay area, "this is not our storm." Philips also noted that Isaias has so far reminded him of Michael, which wreaked havoc on Florida in 2018.
"If you live on the East coast, it's going to be a nasty weekend, especially for the Space and First coast, but not unlike we have seen many many times before."