Tropical Storm Isaias (ees-ah-EE-ahs) was still lashing Puerto Rico and parts of the Virgin Islands with torrential rainfall and strong winds Thursday morning. Other Caribbean islands are under the gun for the next day or two before a possible landfall on the mainland United States the first weekend of August.
As of 5 a.m. EDT Thursday, Isaias was centered about 100 miles southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, producing sustained winds of 60 mph with higher gusts. Those tropical storm force winds extended up to 415 miles from the storm’s center. A Weatherflow station in Yabucoa Tanque de Agua reported sustained winds of 52 mph with a gust to 59 mph.
Tropical storm conditions – sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph – will likely reach portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti this morning, followed by the southeastern Bahamas as well as the Turks and Caicos this afternoon. Tropical storm conditions are expected in the central Bahamas beginning Friday morning and could reach the northwestern Bahamas beginning late Friday, then possibly portions of southern Florida beginning Saturday.
The U.S. Coast Guard has already set some port restrictions in southern Florida as they anticipate tropical storm conditions to arrive soon.
Vessel operators desiring to remain in the ports of Miami and Key West must immediately contact the Captain of the Port (COTP) to receive permission and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing. Vessels bound for these ports unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall are advised to seek an alternate destination.
Because Isaias will move across land masses along its journey, including some mountainous areas, its intensity may fluctuate. But by the time it makes a possible landfall in Florida, sustained winds could be as strong as 70 mph, based on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Carriers and shippers should expect potential delays in containerized cargo, as well as trucking freight. Winds from Isaias could produce high surf at ports. Torrential rainfall could slow down loading and unloading of cargo at ports, and may also lead to road closures due to flooding.
There is still some uncertainty about the precise intensity and landfall location in the mainland U.S. Look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.