Tropical Storm Isaias was expected to regain its hurricane strength on Monday as it moved up the U.S. East Coast, threatening a deadly storm surge before making landfall in North Carolina or South Carolina by Monday night.
The National Hurricane Center forecast the storm would cut a path that on Tuesday could soak major cities such as Washington, Philadelphia and New York.
“Hurricane conditions are expected in the Hurricane Warning area by this evening. Preparations should be rushed to completion,” the hurricane center said in its 11 a.m. Eastern Time (1500 GMT) update.
That area included Myrtle Beach, a South Carolina tourist resort, and Wilmington, a port city of more than 120,000 in North Carolina.
In overcast Myrtle Beach, foot traffic was light Monday morning, but a few people were at the beach enjoying the powerful surf, said Buddy Graham, manager of LandShark Bar and Grill on the boardwalk.
The restaurant was closing after lunch but not boarding its windows, Graham said.
“The last really significant impact we had was Hurricane Matthew but we don’t feel the storm is near that magnitude,” Graham said, referring a Category 5 storm in 2016.
The storm’s center was about 90 miles (145 km) off Georgia or some 220 miles (350 km) south-southwest of Myrtle Beach at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (1500 GMT) with winds of 70 mph (100 kph), the hurricane center said.
Tropical storm warnings were issued further north including areas near New York City, which was battered by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
New York City’s emergency management deployed interim flood protection measures against a possible storm surge in lower Manhattan.
“We’re in a very vigilant state right now, we are not taking any chances,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. The city was expecting 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) of rain, officials said.