Tropical Storm Isaias lashes East Coast, bringing threat of heavy rain and tornadoes

Tropical Storm Isaias hammered the Eastern seaboard with flooding, tornadoes and damaging winds Tuesday after making landfall in the Carolinas Monday and weakening overnight.

Isaias pushed ashore near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina on Monday as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph.

By Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. EDT, the storm was centered 65 miles west of New York City as it continued to rapidly move northward. The system was bringing rainfall to a large section of the Northeast — stretching from Pennsylvania to Canada.

The tropical storm formed from a large tropical wave, which developed off the West Coast of Africa in late July. As of Tuesday morning, Isaias had wind speeds of 70 mph — only four less than hurricane status.

Storm damage was reported outside Ocean City, New Jersey, on Aug. 4 as the state braced for the full impact of the tropical storm.

Joel Cline, tropical program coordinator with the National Weather Service, said the center of the storm system was never aligned. “For it to be as well-tracked and as well-forecasted as it was and has been to this point is really pretty amazing,” Cline said.

What are the threats from Isaias?

The main threats from Isaias include heavy rain; gusty winds up to 60 mph; storm surge; and flash flooding in the Northeast and spanning up the coast. Gusts could continue to cause power outages and tree damage.

Wind gusts could reach near-hurricane strength levels. The strongest winds were impacting New York City and the tri-state area.

According to, nearly 1.7 million people were without power Tuesday morning, including individuals residing in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina.

Isaias could also produce isolated and short-lived tornadoes along the East Coast. Dozens of tornadoes had been reported since Monday evening.

Tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia. 

Tornado watches were in effect until late Tuesday afternoon for sections of Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and northeast coastal areas. Tornado warnings were also put into effect for sections of Connecticut and New York.

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Total rainfall amounts between 3-6 inches will be possible with the system, with potential localized rainfall totals around 8 inches. Showers are likely to persist through Wednesday as the system rapidly weakens and moves up the coast.

Where is Isaias headed?

Isaias will move through the Northeast Tuesday and continue northward into Canada by Wednesday.

The storm was quickly moving north-northeast at 40 mph and will continue to move up the Eastern seaboard, impacting coastlines as far north as Maine.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect from the mid-Atlantic to coastal Maine. A warning means storm conditions are expected within the next 36 hours.

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On Monday, Isaias made landfall in North Carolina, leaving behind the effects of heavy rain, hurricane strength winds, and tornadoes.

Rain totals over 24 hours were between 2-4 inches in the Carolinas, with the highest amount near the coast. White Oak River in Snansboro, North Carolina accumulated 3.57 inches, while Buck Creek near North Myrtle Beach picked up 3.42 inches.

The impacts were brought to different areas from the coast all the way into central North Carolina. The town of Oak Island, near where Isaias made landfall, sustained significant damage, according to town officials.

Deputies on Oak Island had to rescue five adults and three children, after the storm hit.

According to North Carolina officials, including Gov. Roy Cooper, the storm also spawned several tornadoes. At least two people were killed after a tornado struck Bertie County, North Carolina overnight.

Authorities said two others were killed by falling trees toppled by the storm in Maryland and New York City, the Associated Press said

More than 164,000 people were without power in North Carolina as of Tuesday morning.

In New York City, officials said a massive tree fell and crushed a van in the Briarwood section of Queens, killing a man inside, according to the Associated Press.

Over the weekend, Isaias killed two people in the Caribbean and roughed up the Bahamas.

Isaias also caused “uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes, and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico,” the Associated Press said.

Isaias is the earliest named ninth Atlantic tropical cyclone on record.