Tropical Storm Isaias is expected to gain strength and become a category one hurricane before it makes landfall at the border of South Carolina and North Carolina, making its way through Eastern North Carolina early Tuesday morning.
The National Weather Service in Newport is expecting Isaias to make landfall after 10 p.m. Monday night, moving up Highway 17 through Wilmington, Jacksonville, and New Bern. Meteorologist Erik Hayden said residents of ENC should expect similar impacts no matter where they are located.
The highest impact areas for ENC will be seen along North Topsail Beach, areas around New River and beaches in Onslow County, as well as New Bern, according to the NWS.
Due to the Neuse and Trent rivers, Hayden explained New Bern is not in the best spot when it comes to storms such as these with the Pamlico Sound being shallow, as water is pushed through the river faster once the river begins to become more narrow up stream.
"There is not a huge difference as everyone is going to be impacted. Most of us are going to see rain but the higher impact areas, in regards to wind, will be seen in Onslow, Craven, and around the coast." said Hayden.
According to the NWS recent briefing Monday morning, Jacksonville, North Topsail beach and Comfort are expected to see sustained tropical force winds at 59 mph with gusts of 75 mph, while New Bern should see 53 mph with gusts 68 mph. Kinston is currently expecting 51 mph with gusts of 64 mph.
Hayden added if Isaias does upgrade to a category one storm, residents won’t see much of a difference with the change of wind.
Isaias is moving at 17 mph Monday are noon, which is a good sign when discussing areas that flood easily in ENC. Jones saw tremendous flooding when Hurricane Florence hit in 2018 and Lenoir along with Western parts of Craven saw the Neuse river crest after Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016. Hayden explained the storm is moving so quickly that they are not expecting widespread issues of flooding.
"The storm is moving so fast and the rain will be intense when it comes down in short spurts so we could have some flash flooding but we are not expecting widespread river issues like we did with the last couple of storms," said Hayden and added most tropical storm/hurricane fatalities are due to water, so people should avoid driving tonight.
Rainfall totals are expected between two to four inches around all of ENC, while areas outside of the high impact zones are forecast to see more. Kinston is currently expecting three to four inches of rain, while all of Onslow, Craven, and Jones should expect two to three inches, according to the NWS.
Onslow County Manager Sharon Russell announced four shelter locations will open at 6 p.m. Monday night and will close at Noon on Tuesday. Swansboro High School, Dixon Middle School, Richlands High School, and Jacksonville Commons Middle School will be used as shelters.
Jones County is opening two storm shelters in preparation of Isaias beginning at Noon on Monday, and is scheduled to close at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Jones Senior High School and Jones County Civic Center. Residents who are seeking shelter and need transportation are asked to call the Emergency Operations Center at 252-397-0007. All residents must check in at Jones Senior High School for COVID-19 screening before entering the shelters.
Officials in Lenoir County have chosen not to open shelters as of Monday afternoon, encouraging residents to make preparations ahead of time for a safe place to go if needed. If shelters are opened, the county will follow all CDC guidelines when it comes to COVID-19, and shelters should only be used a last resort, according to a news release.
The Daily News reached out to officials in Craven County in regards to shelters but has not received an answer back.