Virginia, DC prep for possible impacts from Hurricane Isaias

The official National Hurricane Center forecast for Isaias as of 5 a.m. Saturday. Updates are posted on the NHC’s website every three hours. (Courtesy NOAA/NHC)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Isaias, which could bring heavy rain and gusty winds from coastal Virginia through Maryland’s Eastern Shore early next week, with D.C. eyeing a flood risk.

As a Category 1 hurricane, Isaias was bringing strong winds and high swells to the western Bahamas on Saturday morning, with Florida next in line on Sunday.

Although the National Hurricane Center doesn’t foresee significant strengthening as the storm pivots northward and parallels the U.S. East Coast from Sunday through Tuesday, the Mid-Atlantic to New England are likely to see some rough weather.

While Isaias’ path is still uncertain, it appears increasingly likely that eastern Virginia could be impacted and must prepare for the possibility of flooding, high winds and potential storm surge, a news release from Northam’s office said.

As of Saturday morning, the official track for Isaias had the storm making landfall west of Cape Hatteras early Tuesday before emerging back into the Atlantic and racing northeastward, just off the Virginia shore, through Wednesday.

Isaias is forecast to remain a Category 1 hurricane or strong tropical storm while skirting the coastline. A nudge to the east would limit most impacts to Florida and the Carolinas, while a more westward track through the Chesapeake would bring a significant flood risk into the immediate D.C. region around Tuesday.

Both are distinct possibilities to be aware of.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser asked residents Friday night to prepare for the possibility of heavy rain and wind activity from Isaias early next week.

Bowser said in a news release that the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency had begun emergency planning with its local, regional and federal partners; and more information will be provided as the hurricane’s trajectory becomes more precise.

The Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide During the COVID-19 Pandemic outlines preparedness, response and recovery actions, and Northam urged Virginians in coastal areas who may be affected to consult it in making their preparations.

For more on hurricane preparation, go to the FEMA website. Find more tips on the Ready DC website and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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