PHILADELPHIA -- Tornado watches are up for the entire region, and a tornado warning was in effect for parts of Philadelphia and southeastern Montgomery County as Isaias approaches the region wringing out heavy rains that already have set off flood warnings.
The tropical storm warning remains in effect as Isaias appeared to be heading right toward the heart of New Jersey.
By 7 a.m. local time it had reached the Virginia border, and as it gets closer on its northward trek it is expected to bringing tropical storm-force winds that could bring down trees and power lines.
The storm was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane on Monday night, after it killed two people in the Caribbean, caused damage to the Bahamas, and brought heavy rain and flooding to Florida.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency late Monday night in advance of the storm. It went into effect at 5 a.m. Tuesday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Nicholas Carr said the Philadelphia region should brace for wind gusts of 50 mph in areas, as well as heavy rain of around 3 to 5 inches in Philadelphia, and possibly more in Montgomery and Bucks counties.
That could lead to potential flooding from rivers and streams. There is also a potential for storm surge inundation of 1 to 3 feet Tuesday morning into evening, as well as flash flooding Monday night through Tuesday night.
Carr added that there is an isolated tornado threat Tuesday, particularly in areas east of Philadelphia, due to the projected strong winds.
The last time Philadelphia itself was in a tropical storm warning, Carr said, was Hurricane Irene in 2011. Fay, which made landfall on July 10 in New Jersey, mostly just led to heavy rain in Philadelphia, while the winds were confined to the Jersey Shore and Delaware.
Isaias could result in scattered tree damage and power outages in the Philadelphia area, as well as structural damage near the coast, where wind gusts could potentially near hurricane strength.
Residents should prepare by securing loose objects and should avoid flooded roadways. Carr recommended avoiding traveling Tuesday afternoon if possible.
Gov. Tom Wolf's administration urged residents to know the difference between a flood watch, which means that flooding may occur, and a flood warning, which means there is actual flooding. Officials also suggested residents consider possible evacuation plans and identify a meet-up location for family members in the event they get separated.
"The best way to help emergency responders is for individual families to be prepared with an emergency plan and a communications plan, so everyone knows what they need to do to stay safe," Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency director Randy Padfield said in a statement.
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