Tropical storm watches are up for Florida’s eastern coast, and Isaias, which has blossomed into a hurricane, could affect the rest of the East Coast early next week, the National Hurricane Center said Friday.

Hurricane warnings were posted for the Bahamas, and Isaias, whose strength has exceeded earlier forecasts, could become a Category 3 storm with peak winds of 100 mph Saturday.

Tropical storm conditions could reach Florida Saturday, the hurricane center said, generating rains of 3 to 6 inches, and the storm is forecast to make a sharp northward turn and parallel the coast, perhaps making landfall in the Carolinas.

Projected path of Isaias as of Friday, July 31.
National Hurricane Center
Projected path of Isaias as of Friday, July 31.

That would put it on a path to have some impact on the Philadelphia region, particularly at the Shore, with the primary threat being heavy rains, given all the juice over the very-warm Atlantic.

The National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly said Isaias was a “wild card” for the forecast and could have impacts around here late Monday and/or Tuesday. “Needless to say, this will need to be watched closely,” the office said in its daily discussion.

Isaias' projected wind field as of Thursday.
National Hurricane Center
Isaias' projected wind field as of Thursday.

Whatever else Isaias does or doesn’t do, it has set another record. It became the ninth named storm of the season, which hasn’t occurred this early in the Atlantic Basin in the satellite period dating to the 1960s. To earn a name, a storm needs peak winds of 39 mph.

The previous record was held by Irene, which formed on Aug. 7, 2005, said hurricane center spokesperson Dennis Feltgen. That’s not to be confused with the Irene of 2011 that set off widespread flooding around here. The Irene of 2005 was essentially a fish storm that stayed out over the Atlantic, but it would be followed by the devastating Katrina.

On average, only 11 named storms form in the basin during the June 1-Nov. 30 season. Of those, typically six become hurricanes, with peak winds of 74 mph or better, with four of those becoming major ones, which have winds of at least 111 mph.

In the meantime, Philadelphia was having quite a different weather experience Friday: Afternoon temperatures were in the mid-70s in a month that has tied a record for the most 90-degree days in a July.