Isaias, the ninth named storm system of the busy 2020 hurricane season, strengthened into a hurricane early Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm, which battered parts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on Thursday, was expected to travel up the eastern coast of Florida and continue north, potentially bringing heavy winds, rain and flash flooding, according to the center.
On Friday morning, Isaias was southeast of the Bahamas and moving northwest at 17 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 80 m.p.h. The storm was lashing the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands with strong winds and heavy squalls, the center said.
Isaias was expected to produce flash flooding and mudslides across the Dominican Republic, northern Haiti, and Turks and Caicos, the center added, and hurricane conditions were expected over portions of the Bahamas on Friday.
The center forecast that the storm would near southeast South Florida on Friday night through Saturday.
A hurricane warning was issued for the northwestern Bahamas, and tropical storm conditions were possible for the east coast of Florida on Saturday.
The center said there were risks from winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge late this weekend on the northeastern Florida coast and northward along the East Coast through early next week. The “entire U.S. East Coast should monitor” Isaias, the center said.
On Wednesday, the Florida Division of Emergency Management announced that all state-sponsored coronavirus testing sites would close at 5 p.m. Thursday. The department later said that state-sponsored sites in 11 counties would remain open.
The other sites would be closed until it was safe to reopen, which is expected to be no later than 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to a statement.
“All sites have free-standing structures including tents and other equipment, which cannot withstand tropical storm force winds, and could cause damage to people and property if not secured,” the statement said.
As the storm passes through the state, testing sites will reopen on a rolling basis, and symptomatic Floridians were encouraged to pick up a self-swab test from any of the testing sites.
On Wednesday alone, Florida reported more than 9,400 new coronavirus cases and 216 deaths. There have been more than 461,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 6,500 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in the state, a New York Times database shows.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 27, 2020
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
Emergency managers this year have been wary of what might happen if a major hurricane strikes during the coronavirus pandemic. Evacuation orders often put people in close contact with one another in shelters, which would make maintaining social distancing and other safety measures against the virus difficult to maintain.
Over the weekend, officials in Hawaii worried that space at shelters could be limited because of social distancing policies if Hurricane Douglas hit the islands grimly. The American Red Cross also faced obstacles recruiting volunteers to run the state’s shelters because of anxieties surrounding exposure to the coronavirus.
Last week, Hanna hit the southern coastal region of Texas as a Category 1 hurricane, taking aim at some of the same communities that have seen a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. As the storm neared the coast, the mayor of Corpus Christi urged people who had taken in relatives to wear masks in their homes; San Antonio opened a reception center for people who had fled their homes, where officials handed out vouchers for hotel rooms.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, has been a busy one. The first tropical storm was Arthur, which formed off the coast of Florida in May, followed by Bertha, which made landfall near Charleston, S.C., later that month. The systems made 2020 the sixth year in a row that a storm developed before the official start of the season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an above normal Atlantic hurricane season, with as many as 19 named storms — of which six to 10 could become hurricanes. And three to six of those could develop into Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricanes.
An average hurricane season usually produces 12 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes and three of those six developing into major hurricanes.
An analysis of observational data of satellite images since 1979 by researchers suggests that climate change is making hurricanes stronger and more destructive.
Johnny Diaz contributed reporting.