Forecasters are now saying Tropical Storm Isaias (pronounced “ees-ah-EE-ahs”), will likely strengthen to a hurricane by Friday night.
According to a 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the storm's track has shifted further east, placing Tampa Bay out of the cone of uncertainty. Isaias is now projected to head north along Florida’s eastern coast, reaching Broward County at 2 p.m. Saturday with maximum-sustained winds of 75 mph and 90 mph gusts.
Isaias is currently featuring 60 mph winds, and moving slightly less than 20 mph about 155 miles miles west-northwest of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. As of now, the storm is expected to eventually reach the Carolina’s as a Category 1 hurricane.
Since half of the state is still in the cone of uncertainty, a tropical storm watch has been issued for the east coast of Florida from Ocean Reef to Sebastian Inlet.
Last night, Isaias became the ninth named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane season (the earliest ninth storm on record), and battered Puerto Rico with 60 winds and heavy rain.
All state-run COVID-19 testing sites in Florida will close Friday through Tuesday because of the storm, but Hillsborough County sites will now be open, after they previously said 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.”
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