Florida is preparing Sunday for the passage of Isaias, the hurricane that dumped torrential rains on the Bahamas on Saturday before being demoted to the rank of tropical storm.
Forecasters estimated that Isaias could regain strength and become a hurricane again by hitting the Florida coast where it will test the emergency services of one of the states most affected by the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States. United States.
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Isaias, which was downgraded from Category 1 hurricane to tropical storm Saturday night, was blowing maximum winds of up to 110 km / hour over the Straits of Florida.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm would amplify and revert to a hurricane overnight as it approached southeast Florida before advancing toward the eastern coast of the peninsula.
The region was already enduring heavy gusts of rain on Sunday morning.
“We will start to see the impacts of the storm tonight, then obviously tomorrow until tomorrow night,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Saturday night. Palm Beach County has issued a voluntary evacuation notice, he said.
According to the NHC, “although Isaias has weakened after its visit to Andros Island (Bahamas), it is expected to strengthen on Saturday evening and Sunday morning as the cyclone moves over the warm waters of the Straits of Florida and the Gulf Stream ”.
“Isaias is expected to remain a hurricane until Monday, followed by a gradual weakening Monday night or Tuesday,” the organization added.
NASA, for its part, was following the storm very closely, which risked disrupting the return to Earth of SpaceX’s manned capsule, after a two-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Crew Dragon is due to bring back two astronauts on Sunday afternoon for a water landing off Florida in the Gulf of Mexico weather permitting.
At 11:34 p.m. GMT (7:34 p.m. Quebec time), the capsule began the process to leave the ISS and land in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday at around 6:41 p.m. GMT (2:41 p.m. Quebec time), according to the US space agency.
A site off the town of Pensacola (in northern Florida) has been selected as “priority” for the water landing, with an alternative in front of Panama City, if the sea is too rough or the winds too strong.
Roads submerged by mud, high-voltage lines torn off, decapitated trees and vegetation, flooded houses … Isaias has already done a lot of damage since Thursday in Puerto Rico, American territory, in the Dominican Republic not to mention the Bahamas.
The Republican Governor of Florida on Friday declared a state of emergency for counties on the state’s east coast, from Miami-Dade to Nassau, which was approved by President Donald Trump on Saturday, allowing funding to be allocated. . “This will help our state respond quickly to any damage,” Mr. DeSantis tweeted.
Florida deplored on Saturday 179 deaths linked to the new coronavirus in one day, a toll down slightly, after the records of the previous days (257 dead Friday, 253 dead Thursday, 216 Wednesday, 186 Tuesday).
It also has more than 480,000 cases detected since the start of the pandemic, overtaking New York, long the epicenter of the American epidemic in the spring, and ranking second behind California, whose population is twice as large.
Due to the weather, the state has had to close COVID-19 testing centers, many of which are tented, in anticipation of the hurricane’s arrival, even though county testing centers remain open .
“When we resume testing, it is very likely that we will see a new outbreak of cases,” feared on CNN Francis Suarez, the mayor of Miami.