Isaias expected to bring soaking rain, high winds to Delaware Tuesday

DOVER — Tropical Storm Isaias, which was anticipated to make landfall in the Carolinas as a hurricane on Monday night, is set to drench Delaware today with around 2 to 6 inches of rain and strong winds that will roar in at 40 to 50 mph with gusts of 65 mph – especially along the state’s coastline.

The tropical storm’s impact throughout the state is expected to be felt the most this morning and impacts could continue in the region until Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Tropical Storm Warning and Flash Flood Watch for all three counties in Delaware.

Officials throughout the state have been tracking and monitoring the storm system as it makes its way up the East Coast.

“We’ve obviously been monitoring is very closely,” Lewes Mayor Theodore Becker said on Monday. “We have been working with Sussex County Emergency Operations and getting updates there. Joe Thomas (director) has been providing updates twice a day and monitoring the system.

“The storm seems to be moving west and that might be helping in some way. Now that the storm seems to be tracking a little more up middle of Peninsula it looks like we’ll get a lot of wind but not the rain that we originally thought.”

Kay Sass, the public affairs and emergency management coordinator for the city of Dover, has also been tuned in to the whereabouts and potential impacts of Tropical Storm Isaias.

“We have been watching this since last week and participating in the bridge calls daily with DEMA (Delaware Emergency Management Agency) and the National Weather Service, as well as many other entities around Delaware,” Ms. Sass said. “We have some of our employees out checking storm drains/basins in areas that are most prone to flooding.

“Of course, our hope would be that it decreases in the volume of rain and wind even more than it appears to have already. Still we pray for the best, plan for the worst.”

On Monday, the NWS in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said the primary concern with Isaias remains heavy rain that could lead to flash flooding. They also said some river flooding is possible but is not expected along the main stem of the Delaware River.

It is anticipated that Kent County could receive 4 to 6 inches of rain with the majority of Sussex County receiving 2 to 6 inches.

The most likely time of arrival of tropical storm force winds along and southeast of I-95 is mid- to late-Tuesday morning. However, this area could see tropical storm force winds as early as daybreak today.

The NWS added there is a potential for 1 to 3 feet of storm surge along the state’s coastal areas, which could lead to minor to locally moderate coastal flooding. There is also the possibility of isolated tornadoes and dangerous rip currents and 8- to 12-foot seas are also expected over the waters. Forecasters issued a Coastal Flood Advisory from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

Sussex County is in the projected bullseye path of Isaias, a tropical system that forecasters say may bring gusty winds and torrential rains to the Delmarva Peninsula over the next 24 to 36 hours.

The storm’s projected track takes the center of circulation over or near the Delmarva Peninsula, with it rapidly moving northeast toward New England and the Canadian Maritimes by Wednesday.

While that quick exit should minimize the amount of time winds and rain can affect the region, forecasters still expect sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph, with gusts to 70 mph.

The storm’s effects should begin to lessen by tonight or early Wednesday morning.

However, the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center, which is monitoring the latest forecasts, is cautioning those in vulnerable areas to be ready and to consider relocating to higher ground, if necessary.

“This is not one of the stronger storms we’ve encountered, and thankfully it looks to be one that will move quickly. But it could be a rough 12 hours or so (today), with a lot of wind and rain, and people need to be prepared for the possibility of power outages, downed trees and utility poles, and minor street and tidal flooding,” Sussex County Emergency Operations Center Director Mr. Thomas said. “We are in the height of the summer tourist season, and many of our visitors may not be accustomed to these types of events.

“But we live in a coastal community, with many low-lying areas, so we would encourage everyone, especially our visitors, to be aware of their surroundings, monitor the forecasts, make the necessary preparations, and be ready to take action should conditions warrant.”

Areas that historically flood, including Long Neck, Broadkill Beach and Prime Hook, could see minor flooding with tides as much as two feet above normal today. SCEOC encourages residents and visitors in these areas to be mindful of the forecast and monitor conditions as they change.

Officials with DEMA said Delawareans should keep an eye on the storm as it approaches and take the necessary precautions.

“Delawareans, especially along coastal areas, should know their evacuation route in case it is required,” a statement from DEMA said. “You can see the evacuation routes on the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) website at deldot.maps.arcgis.com. Monitor the situation for evacuation orders from local and state emergency agencies to determine if and when to evacuate. Make sure to have a full tank of gas. Options are limited in some sections of Route 1, and you don’t want to stop unless necessary.”

The NWS cautioned that life-threatening rainfall flooding could have possible extensive impacts across Delaware, western New Jersey and much of southeastern Pennsylvania. Potential impacts include:

• Water rescues.

• Rivers and tributaries may rapidly overflow their banks in multiple places. Small streams, creeks, canals, and ditches may become dangerous rivers. In hilly terrain, destructive runoff may run quickly down valleys while increasing susceptibility to rockslides and mudslides. Flood control systems and barriers may become stressed.

• Flood waters can enter structures within multiple communities, some structures becoming uninhabitable or washed away. Streets and parking lots may become rivers of moving water with underpasses submerged. Driving conditions may become dangerous. Possible road and bridge closures with some weakened or washed out.

Combined with the drenching rain, strong winds anticipated in Kent and Sussex counties could contribute to:

• Some damage to roofing and siding materials, along with damage to porches, awnings, carports, and sheds. A few buildings experiencing window, door, and garage door failures. Mobile homes damaged, especially if unanchored. unsecured lightweight objects become dangerous projectiles.

• Several large trees snapped or uprooted, but with greater numbers in places where trees are shallow rooted. Several fences and roadway signs blown over.

• Some roads impassable from large debris, and more within urban or heavily wooded places. A few bridges, causeways, and access routes impassable.

• Scattered power and communications outages, but more prevalent in areas with above ground lines.

Mayor Becker said the town of Lewes has sent out warnings for residents to be prepared for the incoming storm.

“We are putting out a notice through our Code Red system to encourage residents to move everything inside and make sure anything loose is anchored down in yards and for people to tie down boats and any kind of beach equipment that they have,” the mayor said. “We have decided to suspend trash service (today) and we expect to pick up trash on Wednesday.”

Ms. Sass said residents of Dover should especially be on the lookout for flooded-out roads since Kent County is expected to receive the most rainfall.

“My best advice for everyone is to avoid areas where water rises quickly on our roads, this has the potential to drop a lot of rain in a relatively short time and is too much for any storm system to keep up with,” she said. “If they come upon a roadway covered in water, take an alternate route. It goes back to the old saying we have all heard a thousand times, turn around, don’t drown. We just do not know the integrity of the road surfaces under the standing water.”

Officials with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) said motorists should not attempt to drive through flooded roads and be alert for downed trees, wires and other obstructions on the road as result of the wind and rain.

DelDOT and its contractors were busy securing equipment and materials on construction sites Monday, however, motorists should be cautious and aware in those areas for objects that can be blown into the roadway. Hazards can be reported to the Transportation Management Center by calling #77 when safely able to do so, which is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The National Hurricane Center cautioned people to stay tuned to the storm’s expected path as it can change at any time.

“The center of Isaias will pass just to the east of the Florida east coast through this morning,” the National Hurricane Center said in its advisory Monday. “The center of Isaias will then move offshore of the coast of Georgia and southern South Carolina later (Monday), move inland over eastern South Carolina or southern North Carolina (Monday night) and move along the coast of the mid-Atlantic states (today).”

Isaias already has caused destruction in the Caribbean: On Thursday, before it became a hurricane, it uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. One man died in the Dominican Republic.

In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floods that swept away one woman, whose body was recovered Saturday.

Isaias snapped trees and knocked out power as it blew through the Bahamas on Saturday.