Isaias Rapidly Intensifies into a Hurricane Southeast of the Bahamas

Former Tropical Storm Isaias rapidly intensified into a hurricane southeast of the Bahamas on Thursday night.  At 11:40 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Hurricane Isaias was located at latitude 20.3°N and longitude 72.1°W which put it about 70 miles (110 km) east-southeast of Great Inagua.  Isaias was moving toward the northwest at 18 m.p.h. (30 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 995 mb.

Hurricane Warnings were issued for all of the Bahamas including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, the Ragged Islands, Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, the Abacos, the Berry Islands, Grand Bahama Island and Bimini. Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the entire coast of the Dominican Republic, Le Mole St. Nicholas, Haiti to the northern border with the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Ocean Reef to Sebastian Inlet, Florida.

A reconnaissance plane sampling former Tropical Storm Isaias on Thursday night found winds to hurricane force and a decrease in surface pressure.  The core of Hurricane Isaias organized quickly after it moved over the warm water north of the Dominican Republic.  A band of strong thunderstorms wrapped around the western side of the center of circulation.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 30 miles to the northeast of the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out 240 miles (390 km) to the north and east of Isaias in the parts of the circulation that were over water.  Thunderstorms near the center of circulations were generating upper level divergence which pumped mass away from the tropical storm and allowed the pressure to decrease.   Brands of thunderstorms were wrapping around the eastern and northern sides of the circulation.

Hurricane Isaias will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 36 hours.  Isaias will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Isaias will strengthen on Friday and it could intensify more rapidly once an inner core consolidates.  Isaias could intensify into a major hurricane while it moves over the Bahamas.

Hurricane Isaias will move around the western end of a subtropical high pressure system over the North Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer Isaias toward the northwest during the next 36 hours.  It will turn the hurricane more toward the north on the weekend when Isaias reaches the western end of the high pressure system. On its anticipated track Hurricane Isaias will move over the Southeastern Bahamas on Friday morning.  Isaias will move over the Central Bahamas later on Friday and it could approach southeast Florida on Saturday.  Hurricane Isaias could approach the coast of the Carolinas on Monday.  Hurricane Isaias will bring strong winds and locally heavy rain to the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.  Heavy rain could cause flash floods.  Hurricane Isaias will also generate a dangerous storm surge in the Bahamas.