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article imagePacking winds of 75 mph, Hurricane Isaias heads to Florida

By Karen Graham     Jul 31, 2020 in Environment
A hurricane watch has been issued for parts of the Florida coastline on Friday as Hurricane Isaias drenched the Bahamas on a track for the U.S. East Coast where it is expected to remain a hurricane for several days.
The National Hurricane Center's 11:00 a.m. advisory placed Hurricane Isaias 365 miles (383 kilometers) south-southeast of Great Abaco Island 295 miles (470 kilometers) southeast of Nassau, in the Bahamas. Isaias is now packing sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) with higher gusts.
The hurricane's movement is presently to the northwest at 16 mph (26 kph) and the minimum central pressure is now 992 mb (29.30 inches).
A Hurricane Watch has been issued for portions of the Florida east coast from north of Deerfield Beach northward to the Volusia-Brevard County Line. A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area within a period of 48 hours.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands, portions of the Florida east coast North of Ocean Reef northward to Sebastian Inlet, and for Lake Okeechobee. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.
Isaias is forecast to be near the Central Bahamas tonight, and move near or over the Northwestern Bahamas Saturday and near the east coast of the Florida peninsula Saturday afternoon through Sunday. Some strengthening is possible today and tonight, and Isaias is expected to remain a hurricane for the next few days.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km).
South and east-central Florida could see 2 to 4 inches, with isolated totals of 6 inches, from Friday night through Monday, according to CNN. These rainfall amounts could result in isolated flash and urban flooding, especially in low-lying and poorly drained areas.
Florida prepares for a hurricane amid a pandemic
Beaches, marinas and parks in Miami-Dade County will start closing, beginning Friday night. According to CBS News, Mayor Carlos Gimenez says there are 20 evacuation centers on standby that could be set up with COVID-19 safety measures. "We still don't think there is a need to open shelters for this storm but they are ready," he said.
The mayor also says that social-distancing measures prompted by COVID-19 mean each person needs to have 40 square feet of space and no more cafeteria-style dining will be allowed. Mayor Gimenez is also concerned because COVID-19 testing will not be available for several days.
"A lot of these testing sites are outdoors. They have tents and will cause damage. We had to put safety first," he said. "We will have thousands of tests that will not be conducted until we get these test sites up and running again."
The mayor also addressed those who have tested positive for the coronavirus. "If you are positive, we have worked with the school system so we can put them in classrooms and separate them from the general population," he said. "It's a challenge, but these are some of the things you have to think about in the age of COVID-19 and now a hurricane."
The next complete advisory will be at 5:00 p.m.
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