Tropical Storm Isaias’ winds and rain are headed our way

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for the Eastern Seaboard as far north as Long Island on Monday as forecasters expect Isaias to track inland over the mid-Atlantic and New England region as a tropical storm bringing the potential for flooding rainfall, damaging winds and coastal flooding prior to the middle of this week — and tropical storm watches extend northward to the Maine coast.            

Even though Isaias lost some of its intensity while passing between Florida and the Bahamas this weekend, it is still a potentially dangerous and damaging tropical system and is expected to send copious amounts of moisture northward. The storm will pack enough wind to cause problems 800 to 1,500 miles farther north from when the storm was at its peak.

“Along and just northwest of the I-95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England, heavy windblown rain with embedded thunderstorms will be the central theme from Isaias,” AccuWeather Northeast weather expert Elliot Abrams said.            

The center of Isaias, may pass rather close to New York City, which would be the second storm of the season to do so following Tropical Storm Fay in early July.

“The last time there have been two named tropical systems pass so close in the same season was in 1985 when Gloria and Henri passed over Long Island, New York,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.

“In 1960, Brenda and Donna passed within 40 miles of New York City,” Buckingham added.

The track of Isaias will be somewhat different and will have different impacts when compared to Fay from early July. Isaias will push farther west and well inland over the mid-Atlantic than Fay, which moved onshore just north of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Isaias’s stronger winds will affect more land areas of the coastal mid-Atlantic as well as a large part of the Chesapeake and Delaware bays compared to Fay. The storm surge caused by Isaias will be a few feet higher than Fay’s and coastal flooding could be more significant. Gusts from the east and south may be stronger and could more easily knock down trees and cause power outages this time from eastern North Carolina to southeastern New York state.

Forecasters warn that people should not just focus on the center of the storm and the eye track, however. Impact from the tropical storm will increase in area and drenching rain will spread farther west as the system moves into the mid-latitudes. The strongest winds can extend well to the east of the center, particularly along the immediate coast.

Isaias is expected to be a one on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes in the U.S. The more nuanced scale introduced by the company in 2019 includes more factors than the winds of a tropical system and takes into account rainfall amounts and flooding impacts.

One of the main threats for the areas from Virginia to Maine will be from torrential rain that can lead to urban and small-stream flooding.

“An increase in forward speed is expected through Wednesday and the swath of heaviest rain will shift from east of the center to the northern and western part of the storm as it moves over land in the Carolinas and track through coastal areas of the Northeast states,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller explained.

A general 2 inches to 4 inches of rain is forecast from the accelerating storm in the Northeast, but a swath of 4 inches to 8 inches of rain is anticipated in eastern Virginia and part of Maryland, where rainfall of 10 inches can occur.

The leading edge of the heavy rain will arrive Monday evening in southeastern Virginia and will overspread the Interstate-95 swath from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia late Monday night and should reach the New York City area later Tuesday morning. Rain is likely to overspread the Boston area during the evening hours on Tuesday.

Winds will also increase as the rain continues to fall. Motorists could face delays due to ponding and poor visibility on the roads, and airline delays are likely to mount as winds pick up and the visibility deteriorates.

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