- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2020

Tropical Storm Isaias was expected to strengthen into a hurricane and make landfall along the Carolinas late Monday, then continue crawling northward up the coast Tuesday to Virginia and Maryland, the National Weather Service said.

The weather service warned of potential flooding from a storm surge of up to 5 feet along the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the Tidewater area of Virginia. Forecasters issued a tropical storm warning for most of the D.C. area, saying heavy rain and strong winds will batter much of the Interstate 95 corridor.

The weather service said a flash flood watch is in effect until 11 p.m. Tuesday for the greater metropolitan area, with 3 to 6 inches of rain expected in most areas.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, Isaias had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and was centered about 180 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane, with winds of at least 74 mph.

Officials in Virginia, Maryland and the District ramped up emergency response operations Monday, warning residents to be prepared for the deadly storm.

“Heavy rainfall, high winds, and flooding are expected along our coast starting early Tuesday morning,” tweeted Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who declared a state of emergency on Friday.

Beachgoers in Virginia’s Tidewater and Hampton Roads areas faced an increased risk of a rip current Monday, with the National Weather Service predicting wind gusts of more than 70 mph churning the surf.

Virginia Beach suspended Tuesday’s trash and recycling collection, and the city’s public works department made sand available for residents to fill bags, while posting on social media that “widespread flooding” was not anticipated.

In Maryland, tropical storm watches turned to warnings Monday on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay, from Anne Arundel to Talbot counties, as officials prepared for rain to hit hardest the lower Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.

A spokeswoman for the city of Annapolis described a “steady stream” of citizens filling up sandbags Monday.

“Please don’t let your guard down just because Isaias is no longer a hurricane,” said Russ Strickland, executive director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. “Be prepared for potential power outages, flash floods and tidal flooding. This is still a dangerous system.”

In the District, Mayor Muriel Bowser suspended meal distribution and COVID-19 testing at public sites requiring no appointment for Tuesday, and warned residents to expand traditional emergency kits with items appropriate for the ongoing pandemic, such as hand sanitizer and extra face coverings.

“Hurricane #Isaias will bring heavy rainfall and high winds to the District over the next 36 hours,” tweeted the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

City residents were encouraged to sign up for text-message warnings on weather at alerted.dc.gov.

Coronavirus cases have risen throughout the region over the past week, and the storm could force people to evacuate to closely packed shelters or leave them stranded without cellphone service, food or water.

An emergency planning document titled “Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide During the COVID-19 Pandemic” encourages residents to secure cordless cellphone chargers, hygiene products and potential evacuation funds.

Isaias killed two people in the Dominican Republic 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.

The storm uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Then it snapped trees and knocked out power Saturday in the Bahamas.

This articles is based in part on wire service reports.

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