RALEIGH, N.C. -- Tropical Storm Isaias is now expected to become a hurricane again before coming ashore late Monday and moving up the Interstate 95 corridor through North Carolina, bringing heavy wind and rain.
Forecasters say Isaias will likely make landfall somewhere between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, headed north-northeastward. The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane warning for the coast from South Santee River in South Carolina to Surf City in North Carolina.
As of 2 p.m. EDT Monday, the center of Isaias was about 115 miles south of Charleston, with top sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was moving north at 13 mph.
The top winds from Isaias will be found on the east side of the storm near the coast, in Wilmington, Jacksonville, New Bern and Plymouth, according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service. The weather service has issued a "storm surge warning" for parts of Pamlico and Albemarle sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico rivers, and for the Outer Banks from Oregon Inlet to Virginia.
But the heaviest rain will fall father west, along Interstate 95, where 4 to 6 inches are likely. New Bern is expected to receive half as much rain as Raleigh, and the Outer Banks may see less than an inch, according to the weather service.
The combination of gusty winds and soaking rains will bring down trees, resulting in widespread power outages, state officials warn.
The first outer bands of rain from Isaias reached the Triangle late Monday morning, but the heaviest amounts will fall overnight. The weather service says Wake County could receive 3 to 5 inches of rain before the storm moves north into Virginia on Tuesday morning.
Much of eastern North Carolina is under a tropical storm warning, including as of 11 a.m. Wake, Franklin and Harnett counties. A warning means tropical storm-force winds are expected within 36 hours.
The weather service has issued a flash flood watch for a broader area of eastern and central North Carolina, including Chatham, Durham and Orange counties, from 2 p.m. Monday to 2 p.m. Tuesday. Rain from Isaias could flood low-lying and poorly drained areas and cause creeks and streams to rise quickly, according to the weather service.
And as that water runs off, forecasters say they expect the Neuse River to reach moderate flood levels at Clayton and Smithfield by Wednesday afternoon. The Neuse is expected to rise into Smithfield Town Commons Park and block U.S. 70 just west of the bridge, Petro said.