Hurricane Isaias has weakened significantly over the last several hours and could hit the Golden Isles as a tropical storm late Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service.
“Looks like everything has it tracking as a minimal hurricane passing just off the coast of Jacksonville and heading as a tropical storm toward South Carolina,” said Jason Hess, a meteorologist with the NWS’ Jacksonville office.
Much depends on how the storm moves in the coming day, he said. If it moves back out to sea, it may strengthen again. A more inland route would weaken it even further, Hess said.
Because of this unpredictability, the Golden Isles is still under a hurricane watch on the coast and a tropical storm warning inland, he explained.
Glynn County government does not plan to call for an evacuation because of the storm’s reduced strength.
“We will suggest people shelter in place during the storm, and we want to remind people that, even though this storm will be overnight to remain out of the water because storms like this cause rip currents and higher impact on the coast,” said county spokesman Matthew Kent.
A predicted storm surge could mean flooding in low-lying areas of the county, he added.
Sustained winds up to 30-40 mph and gusts as high as 50-60 mph are forecast on the immediate coast late Sunday through Monday, along with rain bands bringing one to two inches of rain.
A coastal storm surge of up to two feet above normal tide is expected in the Golden Isles area. Hess said a coastal flooding advisory is set to go into effect on Sunday.
“The trend today is the storm has really weakened quite a bit,” Hess said.
Predicting the storm’s behavior has been difficult, he added. The storm’s path over mountains and islands and a sudden jump to hurricane status on Friday have kept meteorologists busy.