Isaias continued its crawl up the coast from Florida as a tropical storm on Monday morning, staying relatively weak even as meteorologists predicted it would make landfall in the Carolinas as a Category 1 hurricane.
As of 2 p.m., the storm was headed north off the coast of Georgia at 13 mph, with sustained winds at 70 mph. It was 115 miles south of Charleston and 180 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach.
The National Hurricane Center predicted Isaias would make landfall as a hurricane Monday night. South Santee River up to Surf City in North Carolina is under a hurricane warning, and hurricane conditions are expected in coastal Horry County by this evening. The situation is favorable for tornadoes, the National Weather Service said.
The storm is forecast to strengthen in the afternoon or early evening before it reaches the coast of northeastern South Carolina and southern North Carolina, after which it will slowly weaken.
“It’s going to be a teetering thing … a strong storm or really weak hurricane,” National Weather Service Charleston meteorologist Rebecca Davidson said. “It’s been an interesting storm, that’s for sure.”
Winds from the system began pummeling the Lowcountry about noon on Monday.
A band of heavy rain was forecast to move onshore shortly before 3 p.m. between Folly Beach and McClellanville, bringing gusts of 50 to 55 miles per hour.
Authorities issued a tropical storm warning for coastal portions of the Lowcountry, which weren’t expected to suffer a direct hit.
In Charleston, city officials gave Mayor John Tecklenburg authorization to impose a curfew, but he instead urged residents to stay off the road and at home after 6 p.m. Charleston County closed its buildings by 1 p.m. Monday and county beaches and parks were closing at 3 p.m.
Isaias blasted Puerto Rico as a tropical storm before speeding into a hurricane just north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and rolling through the Bahamas as a Category 1 hurricane. Though the winds were relatively weak and quickly quashed by dry air, authorities had to evacuate the communities hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian in 2019, where many people still live in temporary shelters.
On Sunday and Monday, the system largely stayed out at sea as it traveled up Florida’s length.
Meteorologists had expected Isaias, whose winds hovered around the 74 mph threshold that separates tropical storms from hurricanes, to strengthen again and hit Southeast Florida as an organized storm. But dry air and relatively cool water left the system slow, and it’s brushed up the Sunshine State shore with relatively little damage.
The fluctuation doesn’t indicate any surprising conditions, NWS meteorologist Mike Rowley said. Isaias has consistently hovered around 70 to 80 mph winds, staying near the 74 mph mark that denotes a hurricane.
“It’s a matter of a few millibars, a few miles per hour,” Rowley said.