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Hurricane Isaias makes landfall in North Carolina

A car is driven along water-covered Sea Mountain Highway in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., as Isaias neared the Carolinas on Monday night, Aug. 3, 2020.

A car is driven along water-covered Sea Mountain Highway in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., as Isaias neared the Carolinas on Monday night, Aug. 3, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP

. 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 5 feet and up to 8 inches of rain in spots, 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.

Palm trees bend in the winds preceding Hurricane Isaias in Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. August 1, 2020.

Palm trees bend in the winds preceding Hurricane Isaias in Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. August 1, 2020.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Isaias was upgraded again from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane at 11 p.m. EDT. The storm was centered about 64 kilometers east northeast of Myrtle Beach. It was moving north northeast at 35 kmph.

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.

President Donald Trump on Monday described Isaias as “very serious.”

"Storm surge and inland flooding are possible and everyone needs to remain vigilant until it passes,” Trump said.

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.

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 10 feet 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.

A sign informing that Tuesday testing will be canceled due to Hurricane Isaias is seen outside a community testing center for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Bronx borough of New York, U.S., August 3, 2020.

A sign informing that Tuesday testing will be canceled due to Hurricane Isaias is seen outside a community testing center for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Bronx borough of New York, U.S., August 3, 2020.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Officials in frequently flooded Charleston, South Carolina, handed out sandbags and opened parking garages so residents on the low-lying peninsula could stow their cars above ground. Forecasters had warned earlier of possible major flooding, but the storm passed faster than expected and only about a dozen streets were flooded.

Farther up the coast into North Carolina, the hurricane center predicted storm surges of 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 meters) when Isaias moves onshore.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents on Monday that the storm could be dangerous regardless of its strength. He urged those evacuating to turn to shelters as a last resort, citing coronavirus risks and the need to operate shelters at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. "Whether it’s labeled a tropical storm or a hurricane, you should take this storm seriously, and make sure your family is ready,” Cooper said.

Ferry operators wrapped up evacuations from Ocracoke Island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Monday, moving more than 3,500 people and 1,700 vehicles off the island over four days. Island officials were taking no chances after taking a beating less than a year ago from Hurricane Dorian. Evacuation orders also have been issued for Hatteras Island north of Ocracoke.

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.

About 150 people had to keep masks on while sheltering in Palm Beach County, which had a voluntary evacuation order for people living in homes that can’t withstand dangerous winds, said emergency management spokeswoman Lisa De La Rionda.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 9:57:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/hurricane-isaias-makes-landfall-in-north-carolina/article32265770.ece

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