As Isaias approaches, Florida coastal residents hit the beach

Hurricane Isaias

Hurricane Isaias

The center of the storm is expected to move over northern Andros Island in the next hours, on to Grand Bahama Island in the northwestern Bahamas later in the day then near the east coast of Florida overnight through Sunday.

Isaias was carrying top sustained winds of 140km per hour (85 miles per hour) and was located about 80km (50 miles) south of the Bahamas capital, Nassau, at 8am (12:00 GMT) on Saturday heading northwest, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The area could see Tropical Storm Force winds as early as early Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas opened shelters for people in Abaco island to help those who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people.

The Category 1 storm was expected to make landfall in Florida later today and into Sunday, prompting a 'Port Condition Yankee'.

Before reaching hurricane status, Isaias caused widespread flooding, power outages and landslides in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on Thursday. One man died in the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, almost half a million homes and businesses were without power, the Weather Channel reported.

"The situation remains fluid and can change quickly", DeSantis said at a Saturday press conference.

Florida residents rushed to stock up on essentials as Isaias - the ninth named storm of the Atlantic season - began to be felt on the southeastern coast.

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Isaias is expected to remain a hurricane through Monday, then slow weaken on its climb up the Atlantic seaboard.

"North Carolina will feel impacts from this storm", said Mike Sprayberry, the state's emergency management director. "A hurricane during a pandemic is double trouble but the state has been preparing for this scenario so that we can do our best to keep people safe from the weather as well as the virus". That includes 21 COVID-19 nursing facilities that have been set up to respond to the pandemic.

Cooper authorized the activation of up to 150 members of the state's National Guard on Saturday in case they are needed for hurricane response.

Florida authorities said they have prepared shelters, but didn't expect to have to evacuate people.

The Bahamas has reported more than 570 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 14 deaths. This is the earliest date a storm beginning with the letter "I" has formed. A hurricane watch was in effect from Hallendale Beach to south of Boca Raton.

"A general northwestward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected for the next day or so, followed by a turn toward the north-northwest by late Sunday". South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said he did not plan to issue a state of emergency or evacuation orders, but local leaders along the state's Grand Strand have issued their own orders.

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