Tropical Storm Isaias is menacing the U.S. East Coast, but weather officials say it’s not time to worry yet.
“With it just becoming a tropical storm within the last few hours, really there’s still too many variables to get a good feel for the direction it’s going to go,” said Alec Eaton, director of the Glynn County Emergency Management Agency.
Either Isaias hits Florida and heads north towards the Golden Isles or pulls back into the Atlantic Ocean. There’s plenty of gradient in between, however. It might dissipate before it reaches the Golden Isles, hit the islands while skimming the mainland or track off the coast altogether, Eaton said.
“The biggest thing is to monitor (the storm) and be aware of where it's going and hope it goes more eastward,” Eaton said.
Future forecasts largely depend on the storm’s course after it crosses the island of Hispañiola in the West Indies this afternoon, said Al Sandrick, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, in Jacksonville.
The storm's intensity plays a large role, he explained. A more intense storm will likely head back out to sea while weaker ones strike toward land. Warm water is also a factor in increasing intensity, and there's plenty of that off the Atlantic Coast right now, Sandrick said.
Now is the time to update evacuation plans, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
“Everything economic is real challenging right now, so finding friends and family who can help you is a huge component this year,” Eaton said. “Contact friends and family outside the county to see if you can find people to house you if it gets bad.”
Emergency kits should include, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a typical first aid kit, flashlight, portable radio, extra batteries, a gallon of clean water, a seven-day supply of prescribed medication, a cell phone charger, non-perishable food, emergency contact information, extra cash and sanitation supplies.
“This year we added sanitation supplies,” Eaton said, which includes masks, hand sanitizer, wet wipes and disinfectant.
Preparedness is essential, and plans should be based on the best information available, Sandrick said. Social media is not the source of that unless it comes from authorities on the subject.
“Anyone who tells you they have the correct answer right now is selling you some incorrect information,” Sandrick said. “Monitor (information on the storm) right now and be careful of what you see on social media.”