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News on this storm will be updated as necessary.

By Peter Vankevich

In advance of Hurricane Isaias, the Hyde County board of Commissioners today ordered a mandatory evacuation of visitors starting at noon today and mandatory evacuation of residents staring at 6 a.m. Saturday.

The commissioners today also declared a state of emergency, immediately restricting entrance to Ocracoke to residents, homeowners, vendors and other essential personnel.

Tropical Storm Isaias strengthened to a hurricane overnight and is now projected to reach Category 2 strength, with top winds of 100 mph.

The storm, which battered parts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on Thursday, is expected to travel up the eastern coast of Florida and continue north towards the Carolinas potentially bringing heavy winds, rain and flash flooding starting Sunday and worsening.

To get on to Ocracoke today (July 31), motorists will need a re-entry pass on the vehicle or adequate documentation to be allowed on ferries.

Erik Heden, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Forecast office in Newport/Morehead City, urged everyone to get the word out that dangerous rip currents are already present. “We have beach goers that are leaving, they want to get their last dip in the water before they leave; we have beach-goers coming into town that want to get as much beach time in as they can before the storm happens,” he said.

This morning, the New York Times reported Isaias was southeast of the Bahamas and moving northwest at 17 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. The storm was lashing the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands with strong winds and heavy squalls, the center said.

It originated from a tropical wave off the coast of Africa and first tracked by the National Hurricane Center on July 23. As it headed west, the tropical wave gradually became more organized, obtaining gale-force winds on July 28, before organizing into Tropical Storm Isaias on July 30. This marked the earliest ninth named storm on record, surpassing 2005’s Hurricane Irene by six days.

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