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Tropical Storm Isaias (2020)

Tropical Storm Isaias (2020)

Created: Thursday, August 6, 2020 - 16:51
Emergency Response & Recovery, Natural Disasters

August 6, 2020

Tropical Storm Isaias caused widespread power outages in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and New England, many of which are continuing. Connecticut had the most number of outages as of this afternoon, with just over 600,000 customers without power. New York and New Jersey also had significant numbers of outages, with just under 530,000 each. Some of the outages affected water and wastewater utilities, as reported in cases in New Jersey and Connecticut. For these cases, residents were asked to avoid unnecessary water use to ensure adequate water supplies for essential purposes like drinking, hygiene, sanitation, and fire protection. And earlier today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported that nine wastewater treatment plants in New England experiencing power issues. A major cause of the outages was the high winds caused by Isaias, which due to its rapid forward movement weakened only gradually as it progressed up the East Coast. A gust of 65 mph was registered in Pennsylvania, while in New Jersey hurricane-force winds of 75 mph were recorded. Isaias also caused a number of tornadoes, including five in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

Given the threat of widespread and prolonged power outages that tropical storms and hurricanes and other natural disasters can bring, WaterISAC reminds its members of resources that can help them to increase their resilience for these events, such as those posted to the Tools section of its portal. There members can find resources like EPA’s Power Resilience Guide, which aims to help utilities find the best ways to mitigate the effects of power outages. The guide also addresses back-up generators and on-site power generation as well as funding options.

August 4, 2020

Isaias made landfall late last night near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina as a Category 1 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. Its winds decreased to 70 mph by this morning, causing it to be downgraded to a Tropical Storm. On the forecast track, the center of Isaias will continue to move near or along the coast of the mid-Atlantic states today, and move across the northeastern United States into southern Canada tonight. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect from areas from North Carolina to Maine, as Isaias is moving quickly and is anticipated to weaken only gradually as it moves north-northeastward.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Isaias is expected to continue to bring heavy rainfall to areas of the East Coast that will result in flash flooding. Some of this flash flooding may be significant, especially in North Carolina through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through tonight. Potentially life-threatening urban flooding is possible in Washinton, DC; Baltimore, MD; and elsewhere along and just west of the I-95 corridor today. Additionally, widespread minor to moderate river flooding is likely across portions of the Carolinas ans the Mid-Atlantic. Quick-responding rivers in the Northeast will also be susceptible to minor river flooding.

The NHC also warns of the other hazards Isaias will likely bring, which include tropical storm force winds and wind gusts to hurricane force. Additionally, it advises that tornadoes have already occurred over portions of the northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia overnight. The threat of tornadoes will spread northward along the mid-Atlantic coast today and then across New England by tonight.

Read the advisory and forecast at the NHC.

WaterISAC will continue to monitor this system and provide updates as necessary. It stands ready to assist members with any unmet needs and can be contacted at and at (866)H2O-ISAC.