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Isaias near hurricane strength as it crawls toward Carolinas

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Isaias was forecast to strike land as a minimal hurricane on Monday in the Carolinas, where coastal residents braced for possible storm surge and flooding rains.
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S. C. — Isaias was forecast to strike land as a minimal hurricane on Monday in the Carolinas, where coastal residents braced for possible storm surge and flooding rains.
The U. S. National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Surf City, North Carolina. A tropical storm warning was extended northward up the U. S. East Coast all the way to mouth of the Merrimack River in New Hampshire.
Isaias was still a tropical storm at 2 p.m. EDT with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph), but it was expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane later Monday, with winds of 74 mph (119 kph) or more.
“We are forecasting it to become a hurricane before it reaches the coast this evening,” senior hurricane specialist Daniel Brown said. “It’s forecast to produce a dangerous storm surge, of 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 meters) in portions of North and South Carolina.”
Isaias — pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs — could bring heavy rains, too — up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) in spots as it moves up the coast, Brown said.
“All those rains could produce flash flooding across portions of eastern Carolinas and mid-Atlantic, and even in the northeast U. S.,” he said.
Isaias killed two people in the Caribbean and roughed up the Bahamas but remained at sea as it brushed past Florida over the weekend, providing some welcome relief to emergency managers who had to accommodate mask-wearing evacuees in storm shelters. The center of Isaias remained well offshore as it passed Georgia’s coast on Monday.
Authorities were getting ready in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, ordering swimmers out of the water to avoid rough surf and strong rip currents. Still, many people were out enjoying the beach, walking dogs and getting their feet wet under overcast skies.
“We’re from Michigan, so we get snow and go through it all,” Aliyah Owens, who arrived in Myrtle Beach for a summer vacation Sunday, told WTBW-TV.

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