Miami officials closed beaches, marines and parks as Hurricane Isaias churned its ways through the Bahamas on Saturday on a path skirting Florida on its way along the East Coast.
The hurricane had begun to separate slightly in its trek through the Bahamas, with the National Hurricane Service referring to its “ragged eye.”
Isaias had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph Saturday morning but was not expected to strengthen significantly through the weekend, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Authorities in North Carolina ordered the evacuation of Ocracoke Island, which was slammed by last year’s Hurricane Dorian, starting Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas evacuated people on Abaco Island, who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian. People living in the eastern end of Grand Bahama were also being moved.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Florida’s east coast from Boca Raton, just north of Miami, about 150 miles north to the Volusia-Brevard county line. A hurricane watch was in effect from Hallendale Beach to south of Boca Raton.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in every coastal county of Florida’s Atlantic Coast, stretching from Miami-Dade to Nassau counties, on Friday in preparation for the storm.
At 8 a.m. EST, the storm was centered about 20 miles south of Nassau in the Bahamas and was moving northwest at 12 mph. Forecasters said some decrease in its forward motion was expected.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.
Little change in strength is expected through Sunday, with Isaias forecast to remain a hurricane into the weekend.
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The Florida governor said the state was “fully prepared for this and any future storm during this hurricane season,” with stockpiles of personal protective equipment, generators, bottled water and meals ready to be distributed.
But he urged people to have seven days of food, water and medication on hand and said state-run coronavirus testing sites in the areas where the storm could hit would be closed.
“Our sites, because they’re outdoors with tents, if it were to get 40-, 50-mile-per-hour winds, it would just collapse,” he said. “Safety is paramount for that.”
AccuWeather forecasters expect Isaias to make a run along the eastern seaboard of the United States this weekend into early next week.
How far west versus east Isaias tracks and exactly how strong and large the eye wall becomes will determine the severity of conditions in the Bahamas and along the Florida Atlantic coast, AccuWeather said.
Contributing: Associated Press