VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Hurricane Isaias is heading our way and right now, it looks like Florida’s east coast will be feeling its impact.
As of 2 p.m. Friday, Isaias is a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 75 mph. Its current track shows it skirting along the east coast starting near the Miami area Saturday evening and working its way up until it reaches the Central Florida region Sunday morning.
The state’s east coast is under a state of emergency and a hurricane watch has been issued for much of that same area.
The forecast can change between now and Sunday but leaders in Volusia County said Friday afternoon that now is the time to prepare by making sure you have food, water, medication and to remove any loose items from your yard, such as wind chimes and lawn chairs.
Jim Judge, the director of Volusia County’s emergency management department, explained what residents can expect when the hurricane hits.
“So we can anticipate squalls from anywhere from 50 to 65 miles an hour, as the bands move through. So starting Saturday afternoon late Saturday afternoon overnight Saturday into Sunday morning, we’re going to get wind we’re going to get rain, and we’re going to get occasional squalls as the system moves up the coast. Once we get into Sunday morning, between seven and 9am is when we’re going to get potential for Tropical Storm sustained winds of 35 to 45 miles per hour. In addition to that, we can expect squalls throughout the day,” Judge said.
The squalls are expected to become more frequent starting Saturday evening through Sunday evening before the hurricane leaves the area by Monday morning. The storm surge is expected to be 1 to 2 feet high and the storm is forecast to bring 2 to 4 inches of rain to the area through the weekend, although some areas could see as much as 6 inches.
Conditions should be fine most of Friday night and Saturday morning, so residents should take that time to prepare.
Judge said the country currently doesn’t plan to activate any shelters or order evacuations, but emergency officials are on standby should they be needed.
“Every year we work with the school district and basically we’ve got about 32 schools on standby should we need them and then also we have the Volusia County Fairgrounds,” Judge said.
The county’s six special needs shelters would be among the first to open should they become necessary.
A supply of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 is also available to stock the shelters.
At the beaches, Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue Capt. Tammy Malphurs the plan is to take time Saturday to remove nonessential items such as trash bins and portable toilets.
“We do expect high tides and intense surf, we will be flying the red flag throughout the weekend, please when you come to the beach use good judgment and swim in front of those staff lifeguard towers,” Malphurs said. “When we get storms like this come through, it’s not the time to bring your surfboards out and your paddle boards, especially if you are not used to using those things on a normal basis.”
Volusia County residents who have concerns about the storm can call the county’s citizen information hotline at 866-345-0345 or go to Volusia.org/Isaias.