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Tropical Storm Isaias Largely Spares Florida, En Route To Carolinas As Possible Hurricane

After skirting the east coast of Florida throughout the weekend, Tropical Storm Isaias is poised to exit the state on a path to the Carolinas as a hurricane once again.

Isaias threatened a possible landfall somewhere in southeast Florida on Friday. But by Saturday, wind shear and dry air in the atmosphere began to weaken the storm as it shifted east and along the coast, and Isaias remained a tropical storm while lashing coastal areas from Miami to the Space Coast with heavy rain bands, rough surf and gusty winds.

Isaias remained just offshore of northeast Florida on Monday as the storm brushed very close to the area.

As of 2 p.m., the center of Isaias was located about 115 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, and moving to the north at 13 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds are at 70 mph with higher gusts.

A hurricane warning is now in effect for parts of the Carolinas with Isaias on a path toward a possible landfall over the coastal Carolinas on Monday night. Tropical storm warnings also extend from Georgia to as far north as New England.

“The circulation center of the storm passed within about 40 miles of the Treasure and Space Coasts on Sunday, but strong winds in the upper atmosphere have kept the strongest winds from Isaias just offshore,” said Ray Hawthorne, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network. “Occasional, brief tropical storm force wind gusts are likely in northeast Florida later [Monday] morning before the storm moves away from the state later [Monday].”

Forecasters with the hurricane center say the vertical wind shear that the weakened the storm this weekend is expected to subside, meaning Isaias is forecast to become a weak Category 1 hurricane by Monday afternoon when it's expectd to make landfall in the Carolinas.

It is then forecast to weaken and race northeast along the U.S. East Coast and into southern New England by Tuesday afternoon, before it is absorbed by a larger extratropical low over Canada later this week.

Some areas in the coastal Carolinas can expect dangerous storm surge of 3-5 feet, and the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states could see rainfall totals of 3-6 inches that could cause flash flooding over the next couple days, with 8 inches possible in isolated areas.

South Florida is emerging from the storm with relatively little damage, though local officials had braced for more serious damage including widespread power outages.

Between 2 and 4 inches of rain fell in some South Florida areas and the storm knocked out power for a few hundred people. WLRN reported that Florida Power and Light had restored power to nearly 20,000 customers as of 9 a.m. Sunday.

Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network and NPR contributed to this report.

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