Hurricane Isaias is continuing its slow trek toward Florida, with portions of the state’s east coast expected to experience hurricane conditions as early as Saturday night into Sunday morning.
The storm’s track on Saturday is taking center of Isaias treacherously close to Florida’s coastline as a Category 1 hurricane, hugging the coast – and perhaps even making landfall somewhere near West Palm Beach – before turning to the northeast and skirting the mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts.
Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center say Isaias became ragged overnight after encountering wind shear and dry air in the mid-level atmosphere. But it should at least maintain its strength and top out at 85 mph winds through Saturday afternoon, producing gusty winds and powerful rain bands while weakening slightly by Sunday morning.
A hurricane warning remains in effect from Boca Raton to the Volusia County Line, and a hurricane watch is in effect from Hallandale Beach near Miami to south of Boca Raton.
The storm is also forecast to produce life-threatening storm surge along parts of the Treasure and Space Coasts, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 8 a.m., Isaias was located about 50 miles south of Nassau in the Bahamas. Maximum sustained winds remained at 85 mph, with higher gusts, but the storm’s forward speed has slowed since Friday. It is tracking to the northwest at 12 mph.
On its current track, the storm’s center is forecast to pass over the Bahamas on Saturday and approach Florida by Saturday night through Sunday.
According to meteorologists with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, Miami will feel the first effects of Isaias, with tropical storm-force winds starting Saturday morning.
The most severe hurricane conditions are expected Saturday night into Sunday afternoon east of the I-95 corridor along the Space Coast from Merritt Island to Melbourne and points south, meteorologists said. Isaias could produce 3-6 inches of rain, with hurricane-force winds, dangerous storm surge of 2-4 feet, and flash flooding.
Storm surge could be higher if Isaias take a more westerly turn, meteorologists said.
Northeast Florida could experience tropical storm conditions Sunday night, with hurricane conditions possible along the coast in Flagler County.
Conditions should begin to improve in Northeast Florida by midday Monday, as Isaías accelerates toward the Mid-Atlantic states.