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Isaias Spawns Wild Inland Weather      08/04 06:12


   NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) -- Tropical Storm Isaias brought dangerous 
winds and heavy rain over eastern Virginia early Tuesday after making landfall 
as a hurricane near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.

   The hurricane's eye crossed over the coast just after 11 p.m. on Monday with 
maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (136 km/h), and its top winds dropped to 70 
miles per hour (117 km/h) by early Tuesday. But forecasters said tornadoes were 
possible, rainfall would remain a major concern and trees could fall, causing 
power outages as Isaias moves north along the mid-Atlantic and New England 

   "We don't think there is going to be a whole lot of weakening, we still 
think there's going to be very strong and gusty winds that will affect much of 
the mid-atlantic and the Northeast over the next day or two," Robbie Berg, a 
hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center, told The Associated 

   The storm set off flooding and sparked five home fires in Ocean Isle Beach, 
Debbie Smith, the town's Mayor, told WECT-TV. Firefighters from the town's fire 
department were battling the blaze with assistance from Horry County 
firefighters in South Carolina, Tony Casey, a spokesperson for Horry County 
Fire Rescue, told The Associated Press.

   About 80 miles (128 kilometers) north of Ocean Isle Beach, about 30 people 
were displaced due to a fire at a condominium complex in Surf City, news 
outlets reported. It is not clear if the fires were connected to the storm. No 
injuries have been reported.

   Duke Energy reported hundreds of thousands of power outages as heavy rains 
and winds battered areas including Wrightsville, Kure, and Carolina beaches in 
Wilmington, North Carolina.

   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 Isaias reached hurricane strength before hitting the 
coast. The National Hurricane Center warned oceanside home dwellers to brace 
for storm surge up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) and up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) 
of rain in spots.

   "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. A tropical storm warning extended all the way up 
to Maine, where flash flooding was possible in some areas on Wednesday.

   Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs) was upgraded again from a tropical storm 
to a Category 1 hurricane Monday evening. Early Tuesday the storm, downgraded 
again, was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Greenville, 
North Carolina. It was moving quickly north northeast over eastern North 
Carolina at 26 mph (41 kph) and this general motion accompanied by an increase 
in forward speed is expected through Tuesday.

   The center was moving over southeastern Virginia before daybreak, on a path 
to remain near or along the coast of mid-Atlantic states and continue across 
the northeastern United States later into the evening. Strong winds and heavy 
rainfall were expected to spread northward along the mid-Atlantic coast Tuesday 

   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.

   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.

   "It's just going to be a lot of wind and high tide," said Mike Fuller, who 
has lived along the coast for more than a decade.

   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.

   North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper 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, forcing them 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.

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