Hurricane Isaias not likely to impact Pinellas at all

Hurricane Isaias’ most likely track keeps it well away from Pinellas County and Tampa Bay. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning is in effect for portions of Florida’s east coast.

National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service say global models for Hurricane Isaias are starting to come together on the storm’s most likely path. As of Friday morning, the track did not include the west coast of Florida.

However, Florida’s east coast is still under the threat of tropical weather this weekend.

NHC announced about 11:40 p.m. July 30 that Isaias had strengthened into the second hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Maximum wind speeds were 80 mph. A hurricane warning was issued for central and southeastern Bahamas.

In NHC’s 11 a.m. advisory, forecasters said Isaias was moving northwest at 16 mph. The center of the hurricane was expected to move near or over the southeast Bahamas today and be near the central Bahamas tonight. If the track holds true, Isaias should move near or over the northwestern Bahamas on Saturday and be near the east coast of Florida by Saturday afternoon.

Maximum sustained winds were 75 mph, making Isaias a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Some strengthening is forecast over the next five days before the storm becomes post-tropical.

Forecasters say some computer models have shifted the track westward, bringing Isaias closer to Florida’s east coast. A hurricane watch is in effect from north of Deerfield Beach northward to the Volusia-Brevard County line. A tropical storm warning is in effect from north of Ocean Reef northward to Sebastian Inlet and for Lake Okeechobee.

Forecasters predict that Isaias could pass over eastern North Carolina within four days and across New England on day five of the forecast period. The entire U.S. east coast is advised to keep a close eye on the storm.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 205 miles.

NHC also was watching two new systems. Forecasters give them a 20% chance of development within the next five days. One is a low pressure system about 200 miles east-southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands. It is expected to move through an environment less favorable for development.

The second is a tropical wave about 1,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. Some slow development is possible when it reaches the western Atlantic early next week.

The busiest time of the Atlantic hurricane season is mid-August to late October. If you haven’t made preparations, this is the time to do so.

Pinellas County Emergency Management has lots of information on how to prepare for tropical weather. Visit www.pinellascounty.org/resident/disasters.htm. Be sure to check out the preparedness guide at www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/PDF/All_Hazard_Guide.pdf.

Local forecast

National Weather Service in Ruskin continues to point to the hurricane as a potential player in this weekend’s local forecast, although odds are not good it will have any impact.

A heat advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. tonight with a heat index of 110 expected. NWS advises residents to drink plenty of fluids. Stay in an air-conditioned room. Stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.

Temperatures are expected to be in the 90s with heat index values as high as 105 on Saturday. Rain chances are 20% today increasing to 30% on Saturday and 50% on Sunday.

Hurricane season forecast

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its 2020 Atlantic hurricane season outlook on May 21. Forecasters say it is most likely that the season will be above average and could possibly be very active.

Odds are 60% that the season will be above normal, 30% it will be near normal and 10% it will be below normal.

Forecasters gave a 70% chance that 13-19 named storms would form with winds of 39 mph or higher, six-10 hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher and three-six major hurricanes, which are Category 3 or above with winds of 111 mph or higher.

An average season includes 12 named storms with six strengthening into a hurricane and three becoming a major hurricane.

NOAA will update the outlook before the busy season arrives.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.