CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Governor Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency as North Carolina prepares for possible impacts of Hurricane Isaias.
Isaias has now strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane and could possibly make landfall along the North Carolina coast next week.
Gov. Cooper advises residents to follow any local evacuation orders that may be issued.
“Although the track and arrival of the hurricane could still change, now is the time for North Carolinians to prepare,” Cooper said. “Hurricane preparations will be different given the COVID-19 pandemic, and families need to keep that in mind as they get ready.”
Officials are urging anyone who has to evacuate to try and stay with family and friends, or even at a hotel if you can afford it, as the first two options.
The governor says the state will coordinate shelters for those who need to evacuate and who can’t find other arrangements.
“The reason we are asking people to make shelters their last resort is because of social distancing and precautions that go along with a shelter in a pandemic,” Gov. Cooper said.
Because of the ongoing battle with COVID-19, the governor says people needing a shelter will be screened for symptoms and given personal protective equipment like masks at the shelter.
If someone has symptoms, the state has different sheltering options available where it’s easier to isolate.
“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. A hurricane during a pandemic is double trouble. But the state has been carefully preparing for this scenario,” Gov. Cooper said.
The current forecast is for Hurricane Isaias to increase in intensity over the next 24 hours.
The storm shifted west Friday afternoon and its speed and path indicate it could reach North Carolina as early as Monday, making its greatest impact Monday night and Tuesday.
However, the state is already seeing signs of the storm with high risk of dangerous rip currents along the coast, and the danger of tropical storm-force winds is increasing.
Isaias is forecast to move near the east coast of the Florida peninsula Saturday afternoon through Sunday.
While the storm is expected to come eerily close to the U.S. mainland, increased shear is expected to weaken the storm to a degree over the weekend. We’ll be paying close attention to Isaias moves further north towards the Carolinas’ coast.
Landfall along the North Carolina coast Monday isn’t out of the question, but over the next 36-48 hours we’ll get a more accurate picture of the potential impacts for the along the coast.
Gov. Cooper says the state Emergency Operations Center – already activated for COVID-19 – has been activated as well for Hurricane Isaias, and state and local response teams are ready.
The state of emergency was declared to help officials prepare for the possible impacts of the storm.
There is a high risk for rip currents along the coast starting Friday continuing through the first part of the week as Isaias is already producing large swells. Remember, to only swim at beaches where lifeguards are present and if you are not a strong swimmer, you might want to consider just getting your feet wet.
North Carolina Emergency Management says while it’s too early to know many specifics of the expected impacts to the state, now is a good time to review your hurricane plan, check the status of emergency supply kit, and visit http://knowyourzone.nc.gov to see if you live in an evacuation zone.
The North Carolina National Guard also has 75 guardsmen and high-water vehicles on standby should they be activated to respond.
The NC Department of Transportation has more than 1,800 personnel, 1,550 pieces of equipment and more than 1,000 chainsaws ready to respond if needed. They have also suspended passenger ferry, began voluntary evacuations of Ocracoke, waived tolls on evacuation routes, and are preparing facilities and mooring plans for vessels for storm conditions.
Keep up with the latest track as we continue through the weekend!
Make sure you check back for updates and don’t forget the WBTV weather app also has a complete Tropical Weather section you can access for all updates on these storms.