Hurricane Isaias churns through Bahamas as Florida prepares

Hurricane Isaias threatens Caribbean lands as Florida braces for impacts

Forecasters say that Staten Islanders could feel the impact of Hurricane Isaias next week.

Isaias is now a Category 1, with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Hurricane Isaias ripped shingles off roofs and blew over trees as it carved its way through the Bahamas early Saturday and headed toward the Florida coast, where officials in Miami said they were closing beaches, marinas and parks.

It was forecast to pass over the southeastern Bahamas during the night, be near the central Bahamas late Friday and move near or over the northwestern Bahamas and near South Florida on Saturday.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre is keeping a close eye on Hurricane Isaias. "Strengthening is expected later today and tonight, and Isaias is forecast to remain a hurricane for the next few days", the NHC said.

One of the storm defying surfers thought the conditions "were not dangerous" but rather just ideal 'because the waves were too good'.

Tropical Storm Watches were posted from Ocean Reef to Sebastian Inlet, Florida in anticipation of the possibility of tropical storm force conditions on Saturday.

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Isaias was expected to drop from 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

As of 1500 UTC, the NHC said the center of Hurricane Isaias was located near latitude 21.7 N, longitude 74.5 W, moving toward the northwest near 16 miles per hour (26 km/h), and a general northwestward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected for the day or so followed by a turn toward the north-northwest.

The NHC is warning of a risky storm surge with water levels rising by as much as three to five feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds in the Bahamas. "Due to this flooding potential, Flagler County, Flagler Beach, and Palm Coast have sand and sandbags today as well as tomorrow", Lord said. "Isolated minor river flooding is possible in the Carolinas early next week".

Stephen Russell, director of the Bahamas' emergency management agency, said there were no plans to evacuate people, but he urged those living in low-lying areas to seek shelter.

"With the right protection and sheltering, we can keep people safe from the storm while at the same time trying to avoid making the pandemic worse", Cooper said Friday afternoon.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties also closed drive-through and walk-up testing sites for COVID-19, limiting an important tool for health officials on a day when the state - at the epicenter of the country's outbreak for weeks - reported a record increase in COVID-19 deaths for a fourth day in a row.

"If an individual has COVID symptoms, they will be redirected to a non-congregate sheltering option where they can more easily isolate", a statement from Cooper's office says. If the track moves farther east and out to sea, then our impacts will be far less.

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