First Alert Forecast: what to expect from Isaias and when

Tropical Storm Warning, Flash Flood Watch issued for Southeastern North Carolina. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for coastal portions of SE NC.

Your First Alert forecast for Sunday evening Aug. 2, 2020

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Good Sunday evening to you! We certainly had a dry albeit hot Sunday to wrap up your Isaias preparations in SE NC. Look for a nice evening to finish up those last minute tasks. Monday won’t be a washout but do look for the weather to gradually go downhill throughout the day.

It’s worth noting that a Tropical Storm Warning and a Flash Flood Watch have been issued for all of Southeastern North Carolina as excessive rainfall and tropical storm conditions appear likely late Monday and Tuesday. A Hurricane Watch is now in effect from Surf City south to South Santee River, SC.

What is the latest forecast for Isaias itself? The forecast narrative remains: Isaias will climb northward along the east coast of Florida this weekend and reach the Carolinas early next week. Its strength may fluctuate between that of a strong tropical storm and a hurricane as it battles intrusions of dry air and interacts with land.

Might Isaias become stronger than expected? The National Hurricane Center intensity forecast for Isaias has always remained below that of a major (Cat. 3+) hurricane because of the limiting factors described above. However, very warm water temperatures ahead of the storm will offer it plenty of fuel, so we must continue to watch the storm closely.

Timing for impacts in the Cape Fear Region? For direct impacts like rain bands and gusty winds: Monday evening into Tuesday. The good news with Isaias is that it still looks like it will move fast. In and out in 24 hours or so! Mind you: heavy surf, rip currents, and instances of minor tidal flooding have already started, so please respect that.

How much rain and flooding? Tropical rain bands are notorious for generating heavy and variable rainfall. That said, between Monday and Tuesday, most of the Cape Fear Region should get 2-5 inches. Localized 8+ amounts are possible. Watch for pockets of poor-drainage and lowland flooding but take heart: major river flooding appears unlikely.

How much wind? A spell of tropical storm-force wind gusts (35-40+ mph) are likely for all the Cape Fear Region. Hurricane-force wind gusts (75+ mph) are less likely, but cannot be ruled out. Just to reiterate: timing is Monday into Tuesday. Secure loose yard and patio items and watch for spotty tree and power line damage.

Other impacts? Tropical rain bands may spin up quick tornadoes with little warning - waterspouts too. And also on the saltwater side: heavy surf, rip currents, and spells of minor to moderate coastal flooding - especially during high lunar tide cycles. Set your WECT Weather App to follow your location to alert you to any bulletins related to these issues!

Couple of “bottom line” takeaways...

1. Overall, Isaias looks like it will be a manageable storm for the Cape Fear Region. But, you should shore-up your storm kit and plan, just in case. (Something you really should have by August, anyway.) Visit wect.com/hurricane for comprehensive storm prep information and learning tools.

2. Alertness and preparation, in Isaias and any storm, always beats anxiety and panic. Refrain from trafficking in internet storm hype and stay with sources like your WECT First Alert Weather Team that use official National Hurricane Center products for updates. Thanks for your trust!

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