As Hurricane Isaias barrels through the Atlantic heading toward South Florida, Northeast Florida officials are making sure residents remain on guard as the weather system is expected to move toward the area by Sunday night.
Jacksonville MayorLenny Curry said the city expects tropical storm force winds as the center of Isaias is likely to stay dozens of miles east of Duval County when it churns through Atlantic Ocean Sunday and well into Monday morning.
mMayors of Duval County’s coastal cities joined Curry as he held a news conference Saturday afternoon with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop with building surf pounding the coastline. Throngs of Surfers and beachgoers were contending with waves that were often head high and rip currents tearing through the shoreline. A lifeguard in a watch tower in Neptune Beach was flying a red flag, indicating a rip current warning.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoy about 120 miles east of Cape Canaveral indicated the seas are building to deadly heights as Isaias approaches. The buoy reading at 1:40 p.m. Saturday recorded a significant wave height of 7.5 feet with a consistent swell height of 7.2 feet.
Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown acknowledged beachgoers are flocking to the shore. But she warned that the surf is only going to get more treacherous over the next 48 hours.
“There are rip currents and if you come to the beach, please stay near a life guard,” Brown said. “We’ve already had incidents [rescues]. This is serious.”
Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said Beaches Energy has already designated three crews for possible outages Sunday night and many retention ponds have had water levels reduced to handle increased flows from heavy rains expected from Isiais.
Curry said there is no state of emergency declaration as of Saturday and no evacuations have been ordered. Shelters have also not opened.
He added The First Coast has been through so many tropical storms and hurricanes in recent years that it’s likely most residents know how to prepare for a tropical system. But, he said, now is a good time to check supplies and preparation routines.