Tropical Storm Isaias Becomes Hurricane, Moves Closer to Florida

Tropical Storm Isaias officially became Hurricane Isaias at 8 a.m. ET on Saturday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was about 50 miles away from reaching the Bahamas at the time and is expected to pass over the islands during the day. It will then move on to Florida, meteorologists believe.

Hurricane Isaias is moving northwest at a rate of about 12 miles per hour. It sustained wind speeds of 85 miles per hour make it a hurricane, just hours before it is expected to reach Nassau, Bahamas. After passing through or near the island chain, it will most likely impact the eastern coast of Florida. Experts say it will probably make landfall there between late Saturday afternoon and the early hours of Sunday morning.

So far, the northwestern and central Bahamas have issued an official hurricane warning. In Florida, Boca Raton has done the same, stretching right to the line between Volusia and Brevard counties. A hurricane warning is among the most severe weather alerts that can be issued, meaning that hurricane-level conditions are expected within the designated area. Other parts of Florida have a less severe hurricane watch, which could be extended in the hours to come.

Isaias has already had a devastating impact on parts of the Caribbean as a tropical storm. On Thursday, it brought fierce winds and harsh conditions to both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. According to a report by The Weather Channel, two people were killed by the storm in the Dominican Republic, including one man who was electrocuted by a high-voltage power line that fell. The other was a 5-year-old boy who died when a tree fell on his home in Altamira.

In Puerto Rico, the storm's impact was all the more devastating because of the damage done by a recent earthquake on the island. Severe flooding was exacerbated, and hundreds of thousands of people are currently stuck with no electricity or drinking water on the two islands. The National Guard is helping to rescue people.

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The damage has not been completely tallied in the islands yet, but even before the storm hit, officials were anticipating millions of dollars' worth of damage in lost crops — particularly bananas and coffee. Some of the farmers who lost their livelihoods were only on their first or second crop after recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The impact on those two island communities may be a warning of conditions to come, as up to 8 inches of rain are expected in the Bahamas, and up to 6 inches are expected in Florida. The ongoing storm could also impact the speed and strength of relief efforts around the Caribbean.