Region faces heavy rain, high winds from Isaias

Published 9:56 pm Monday, August 3, 2020

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Suffolk is in the crosshairs of where the higher rainfall amounts and stronger wind speeds are expected to meet as the city and surrounding area are under a tropical storm warning and flash flood watch.

Areas east of Interstate 95 and just west of Suffolk are expected to see higher rain amounts of 4 to 6 inches as a result of Isaias, according to National Weather Service Wakefield meteorologist Cody Poche. Areas east of Suffolk heading toward the coast are likely to see stronger winds and perhaps 1 to 2 inches of rain.

He said any area east of I-95 can expect winds of 55 to 65 mph.

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Rain had already moved into Suffolk during the late afternoon and early evening hours Aug. 3.

Poche said the most intense part of the storm for the Suffolk area will be in the overnight hours, with the quick-moving storm moving completely out of the area by midday Aug. 4.

An evening advisory from the National Hurricane Center Aug. 3 stated that it expected Isaias to make landfall near the South Carolina-North Carolina border as a Category 1 hurricane, with heavy rainfall and strong winds likely from the eastern Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic coast through the following day. As of 5 p.m. Aug. 3, the storm was about 60 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C., with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. The storm is not expected to weaken much as it makes landfall.

“It will weaken as it makes landfall, but it’s not making landfall too far to our south, and it’s moving at a pretty fast clip, so it won’t have too much time to weaken too much further,” Poche said.

Poche said conditions would worsen late in the evening Aug. 3 as the storm makes landfall and tracks north-northeast across eastern Virginia and points beyond. Between the strong winds and saturated soils, he said there is a strong possibility of downed trees and power lines. He said any shift in the track would change the potential rainfall totals, though he said there has been no shift in the track in the previous 24 hours.

Heavy rainfall amounts of three to six inches could cause flash flooding even well inland, and moderate coastal flooding is possible with one to four feet of inundation above ground level in surge-prone areas. There is also a risk of tornadoes late in the evening Aug. 3 into Aug. 4.

Once the center of the storm makes landfall, the storm will move inland over eastern North Carolina during the evening Aug. 3, moving along the coast of Virginia and Mid-Atlantic states Aug. 4 before heading into the northeastern part of the country.

A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours. Maximum sustained winds remain near 70 mph with higher gusts. The National Hurricane Center is expecting the storm to strengthen before making landfall, and forecasters are expecting only slow weakening of the storm.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles from the center of the storm.

The city is also under a flash flood watch from 10 p.m. Aug. 3 through the evening hours of Aug. 4.

Poche said there is a possibility of tornadoes overnight with the storm, with any potential watches and warnings going out at that time.