Hurricane Isaias is now a category 1 hurricane located 40 miles west-southwest of Nassau, Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.
Isaias had maximum sustained winds of near 70 miles per hour (110 kilometers per hours) around 5 p.m. Saturday, a decline from earlier in the day, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for North of Ocean Reef to south of Boca Raton Florida, Lake Okeechobee, and the Volusia/Flagler County Line to Ponte Vedra Beach Florida The Hurricane Watch from Hallandale Beach to south of Boca Raton Florida has been discontinued. It recently barred travelers from the USA following a surge in cases after it reopened to global tourism.
"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".
While the National Hurricane Center says Isaias should start impacting North Carolina on Monday, the governor's office says risky rip currents are already occurring along the coastline now.
The hurricane, which forecasters say could reach the shores of Florida first, is expected to hit "as early as late tonight into tomorrow morning, with the potential to increase in strength to Category 2 [hurricane]", DeSantis said at a news conference.
On Saturday morning, the storm was near Andros island in the Bahamas with maximum sustained winds nearing 85 miles per hour, causing power outages and toppling trees. Isaias is expected to bring heavy rains and potentially life-threatening flash flooding and urban flooding to south and east-central Florida. People living in the eastern end of Grand Bahama were also being moved. "Even a lower level storm could really set them back".
Earlier, while still a tropical storm, Isaias lashed Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, causing power outages and small landslides.
Despite its weakened state, hurricane warnings remain along Florida's east coast.
The state was "fully prepared for this and any future storm during this hurricane season", DeSantis said, with stockpiles of personal protective equipment, generators, bottled water and meals ready to be distributed.
He urged people to have seven days of food, water and medication on hand.
Governor Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump declared an emergency, while billions of dollars of economic damage are likely if the system rakes up along the eastern seaboard.
At least two people were killed in the Dominican Republic as a result of the storm, with one man electrocuted by a fallen power line.
Still, the pandemic forced officials handling disaster response to wrestle with social-distancing rules.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez said each person in a shelter needed to have 40 square feet (nearly 4 square meters), and cafeteria-style dining would not be allowed.