Sussex County could see its most significant brush with tropical weather for the 2020 season yet, as a would-be hurricane churning off the Atlantic coast has its eye – with gusty winds and torrential rains wrapped around it – set on the mid-Atlantic region and beyond in the hours ahead.
Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center predict Tropical Storm Isaias, with sustained winds of 70 mph as of 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 3, could strengthen ever-so-slightly to hurricane status before coming ashore in the Carolinas late Monday night. Then, the storm is expected to ride along a frontal boundary stretching across much of the East Coast, spreading gusty winds, heavy rains and rough surf along its path – including Sussex County.
The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm warning for all of Sussex County until further notice. The storm’s projected track takes the center of circulation over or near the Delmarva Peninsula, with it rapidly moving northeast toward New England and the Canadian Maritimes by Wednesday. That quick exit should minimize the amount of time winds and rain can affect the region; still, forecasters expect sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph, with gusts to 70 mph, and as much as 2 to 6 inches of rain across parts of Sussex County, mostly during the daytime hours Tuesday. The storm’s effects should begin to lessen by Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.
At this time, no evacuations have been ordered, and no shelters have been designated. However, the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center, which is monitoring the latest forecasts, is cautioning those in vulnerable areas to be ready and to consider relocating to higher ground, if necessary.
“This is not one of the stronger storms we’ve encountered, and thankfully it looks to be one that will move quickly. But it could be a rough 12 hours or so on Tuesday, with a lot of wind and rain, and people need to be prepared for the possibility of power outages, downed trees and utility poles, and minor street and tidal flooding,” Sussex County EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “We are in the height of the summer tourist season, and many of our visitors may not be accustomed to these types of events. But we live in a coastal community, with many low-lying areas, so we would encourage everyone, especially our visitors, to be aware of their surroundings, monitor the forecasts, make the necessary preparations, and be ready to take action should conditions warrant.”
Areas that historically flood, including Long Neck, Broadkill Beach and Primehook, could see minor flooding with tides as much as 2 feet above normal on Tuesday. The Sussex County EOC encourages residents and visitors in these areas to be mindful of the forecast and monitor conditions as they change.
In advance of the storm, residents, visitors and property owners should take time now to secure loose objects, such as lawn chairs and trash cans, to prevent winds from turning those items into projectiles. Also, residents and visitors in low-lying areas should make sure submersible pumps are working and check storm drains to ensure they are clear of debris.
For updates, stay tuned to local television and radio stations, as well as the Sussex County website at www.sussexcountyde.gov. The public also should monitor the National Weather Service, at www.weather.gov/phi and the National Hurricane Center at www.nhc.noaa.gov for the latest forecasts.
Meantime, Sussex County offers a variety of social media outlets, which are a great resource for up-to-date storm information. Please follow along at: www.facebook.com/SussexCountyDE, www.facebook.com/SussexCountyEOC, and www.facebook.com/SussexCountyEMS on Facebook; and www.twitter.com/sussexde_govt, www.twitter.com/SussexCtyDE_EOC, and www.twitter.com/SussexCoDE_EMS on Twitter.