Shops closed, beaches deserted as Isaias nears the Carolinas

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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)

VERO BEACH, Fla. – Coastal shops and restaurants closed early, power began to flicker at oceanfront hotels and even the most adventurous of beachgoers abandoned the sand Monday night as newly restrengthened Hurricane Isaias sped toward the Carolinas.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned oceanside home dwellers to brace for storm surge up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) and up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain in spots, as Isaias moved up the coast. The Carolinas weren't the only states at risk.

“All those rains could produce flash flooding across portions of the eastern Carolinas and mid-Atlantic, and even in the northeast U.S.,” said Daniel Brown, senior hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center. A tropical storm warning extended all the way up to Maine, where flash flooding was possible in some areas on Wednesday.

The center also warned of possible tornadoes in North Carolina on Monday night and early Tuesday, and from eastern Virginia to southern New England later Tuesday.

Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs) was upgraded again from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane at 11 p.m. EDT. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 miles (137 kph) and was centered about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east northeast of Myrtle Beach. It was moving north northeast at 22 mph (35 kph). The Hurricane Center said it expected the storm to make landfall early Tuesday near southern North Carolina.

Isaias killed two people in the Caribbean and roughed up the Bahamas but remained at sea as it brushed past Florida over the weekend, providing some welcome relief to emergency managers who had to accommodate mask-wearing evacuees in storm shelters. The center of Isaias remained well offshore as it passed Georgia's coast on Monday.

President Donald Trump on Monday described Isaias as “very serious."

“Storm surge and inland flooding are possible and everyone needs to remain vigilant until it passes," Trump said.