Isaias now a Category 1 hurricane, sets sights for Bahamas, eastern Florida

ABC News

ABC NewsBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The storm has already caused catastrophic flash flooding and mudslides in Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Isaias, which strengthened into a Category 1 storm overnight, will hit the Bahamas Friday with torrential rains and high winds before taking aim at eastern Florida, according to forecasters.

The National Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. update that the islands will experience wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour and heavy squalls throughout the day. Four to eight inches of rain is expected to fall in the Bahamas, according to the NHC.

"These rainfall amounts will lead to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides, as well as river flooding," the NHC said.

Forecasters predict the storm will travel northwest and arrive in southeast Florida on Saturday and Sunday. The east coast of Florida from Ocean Reef to Sebastian Inlet and the Lake Okeechobee region are all under a tropical storm watch, according to the NHC.

Parts of the state could see two to four inches of rain with isolated maximum totals of six inches, according to the current forecast.

"These rainfall amounts could result in isolated flash and urban flooding, especially in low-lying and poorly drained areas," the NHC said.

Florida officials are on high alert and watching the storm closely. NASA and SpaceX said Friday they are monitoring the Florida conditions but decided to move forward with plans to bring astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley home to Earth with a splashdown on Sunday.

Officials in Miami-Dade County announced Thursday that parks and beaches would close in anticipation of the storm.

Isaias already caused tremendous damage to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Mudslides left people and cars stranded in the streets and the storm knocked out power to 400,000 customers across Puerto Rico, according to authorities.

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