Hurricane Isaias is expected to bring tropical storm and hurricane conditions to the east coast of Florida beginning Saturday.
Isaias is currently heading over the Bahamas at 16 mph with a maximum sustained wind speed of 75 mph, according to a report from the National Hurricane Center. While the storm’s center is not predicted to hit mainland Florida, its winds extend 45 miles from its core, and its tropical-storm-force could potentially stretch out over 205 miles.
Many of the Sunshine State’s east coast communities from Fort Lauderdale to Titusville received a hurricane watch Friday morning, according to the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
Although Isaias is a Category 1 hurricane, the NHC projects it to reach Category 2 strength Friday night or early Saturday morning as it passes over the Bahamas before decreasing on its way towards Florida.
Tampa Bay is out of Hurricane Isaias’ projected path, according to the 11 a.m. NHC report.
Isaias is projected to bring dangerous storm surges to the Bahamas today and Saturday, according to the report. Additionally, it will bring life-threatening flooding and mudslides across the Dominican Republic, northern Haiti and Caicos.
States north of Florida along the east coast like the Carolinas are predicted to receive urban flooding, especially in low-lying areas with poor draining systems, according to the NHC.
At a Thursday press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to gather at least a week’s worth of supplies to prepare for the storm.
All state-run COVID-19 testing sites in Florida will close Friday through Tuesday due to the storm, but Hillsborough County sites will now be open after previously stating they would be closed.
“The latest forecasts on Isaias' path, however, indicate the storm will stay well east of Tampa Bay,” said a media alert. “Accordingly, all public sites will continue with their normal schedule. This includes operations at Raymond James Stadium; County community resource centers in east Tampa (Lee Davis), Plant City, and SouthShore; and sites in Brandon, Wimuama, Sun City Center, and Town N Country.”
The COVID-19 testing site at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater parking garage will also resume normal operations Saturday, Aug. 1, from 11 a.m. -7 p.m. According to a media release, "The site was closed Friday in anticipation of storm impacts, but the hurricane track has shifted well to the east, eliminating safety risks to staff and the public. Testing is available for anyone regardless of symptoms or exposure, with a limit of four people per car."
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