BOSTON (CBS) — Seems a bit early for this doesn’t it? Typically hurricane season peaks in the months of August through October, and here we are in late July and already on our ninth named storm, Isaias. The fact we made it to the “I” storm this early is also quite remarkable – the average date for reaching “I” in the Atlantic Hurricane Season is October 4th! Back in 2014 we never even made it to “I”!
We knew this would be an active hurricane season, given the weak La Nina and anomalously warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic, and we are certainly off and running.
Isaias is currently a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, moving parallel along the Florida coastline. There are Tropical Storm and Hurricane warnings up for most of the East Coast.
By now, you likely have seen the forecast cone from the National Hurricane Center – the track remains just offshore of Florida, comes north, and makes landfall in South Carolina. The storm will likely stay inland as it accelerates towards New England. The fact that Isaias stays inland should cut down on the worst impacts for southern New England as it will result in a weaker storm.
Taking the most likely scenario (and the current National Hurricane Center forecast), and assuming Isaias will stay just offshore of Florida, it will likely remain a hurricane until it comes ashore in South Carolina on Monday night. From there, the time spent over land as opposed to open ocean is crucial for impacts here in New England. There are already Tropical Storm Watches post for the coastline of Connecticut and Long Island.
We are currently examining three potential scenarios for Isaias here in the Northeast:
1- Isaias takes a western track, farther inland and travels north, over land, through the Mid-Atlantic and through eastern New York state or western New England on Tuesday. This would mean a much weaker storm by the time it reached our latitude, perhaps not even officially “tropical” anymore. We would experience a healthy slug of rainfall but likely very little wind or other concerns.
2- Isaias moves right down the center of the forecast cone, staying mainly inland but possibly regaining strength through some ocean interaction. The closer track would not only would have flooding rainfall concerns, but significant wind damage, especially on the eastern side of the track where winds are strongest. Finally, with the full moon coming on Monday, tides are somewhat astronomically high early next week. So, there would be some coastal flooding/surge/inundation concerns, particularly along the South Coast on Tuesday.
3- Isaias takes a right hook and passes offshore of southern New England and out to sea. We have seen this many times before. . . a big tropical system approaches, makes a close pass east of Nantucket and we barely get a puff of wind. This is still a possibility and clearly a good scenario for folks along our coastline.
Rain totals will likely be highest in southern New Hampshire and Vermont, into the Connecticut River Valley in western Mass. Closer to home, 0.5″ to 1″ for eastern Mass.
Wind gusts could reach 40-50 mph Wednesday morning before Isaias quickly moves to the north.
Whatever impacts are felt here in New England appear to be centered around Tuesday/Wednesday of next week. Until then, we urge that you stay tuned to updated forecasts throughout the weekend on WBZ-TV, CBSBoston.com and CBSN Boston.