Isaias downgraded to tropical storm over eastern N. Carolina

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Michael Bledsoe, far left, sells sandbags as Tropical Storm Isaias approaches in Wilmington, N.C., Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Hurricane Isaias has been downgraded down to a tropical storm after making landfall near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, according to an official with the National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane had touched down just after 11 p.m. on Monday with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (136 km/h). The storm now has maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour (117 km/h).

“Now that the center has moved further inland into east North Carolina, the winds are now coming back down, so it has been downgraded back to a tropical storm," Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center, told The Associated Press.

The weather service also said in its 4 a.m. advisory that threats of tornadoes were beginning to spread into southeastern Virginia.

The storm set off flooding and sparked five home fires in Ocean Isle Beach, Debbie Smith, the town’s Mayor, told WECT-TV. Firefighters from the town’s fire department were battling the blaze with assistance from Horry County firefighters in South Carolina, Tony Casey, a spokesperson for Horry County Fire Rescue, told The Associated Press.

About 80 miles (128 kilometers) north of Ocean Isle Beach, about 30 people were displaced due to a fire at a condominium complex in Surf City, news outlets reported. It is not clear if the fires were connected to the storm. No injuries have been reported.

The storm could continue to bring down trees and cause power outages as it moves north along the mid-Atlantic and New England coastline, Berg said.

“We don’t think there is going to be a whole lot of weakening, we still think there’s going to be very strong and gusty winds that will affect much of the mid-atlantic and the Northeast over the next day or two,” Berg said. Rainfall will continue to be a big issue, he added.