The ninth tropical cyclone of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season developed on July 28, approximately 600 miles east of the Leeward Islands. With its landfall on August 3, Hurricane Isaias became the earliest fifth named storm on record to make landfall on the U.S. mainland.
Due to the storm’s slow development and asymmetrical geometry, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina were mostly spared any significant impacts as the storm passed, never making landfall along these territories and states.
On August 3, the storm developed into a Category 1 hurricane with 85 MPH winds just before making landfall near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. The storm then tracked northeast following the Interstate 95 corridor, impacting not less than 13 states before exiting into Canada on August 5.
More than three million customers lost power during the storm, with 1.1-million power outages in New Jersey alone. Several coastal communities in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey experienced damaging storm surge, and many low-lying inland communities were impacted by flash flooding due to torrential rains. Early damage assessments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicate that insured and uninsured losses will exceed $1 billion.
The NEMA Natural Disaster Team, consisting of staff from the Field Representative Program, Communications and Brand Management, and Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), activated our Natural Disaster Standard Operating Procedures. We did this to coordinate NEMA activities to provide the most current guidance information and other resources to assist electrical professionals, emergency management officials, and community decision-makers on policies and best practices for the selection and installation of electrical products that are resilient to natural disasters. We also provided guidance on how to restore electrical systems after a natural disaster has passed.
NEMA staff utilized digital technology to maximize our outreach efforts by posting guidance information and links to the NEMA Storm Reconstruction Toolkit and the ESFi Disaster Safety webpage on our social media accounts and by sharing these resources during live training webinars hosted by Field Representative Jack Lyons to electrical professionals in the NEMA Northeast Region. Additionally, Technical Director Megan Hayes and Senior Field Representative Bryan Holland co-presented a session on “The Link Between Community Resiliency and Codes and Standards” during the 69th Annual Society for Standards Professionals (SES) Virtual Conference. The purpose of this session was to discuss how emerging technologies and best practices should be incorporated into Codes and Standards to enhance and improve community resiliency to natural disasters, human-made disasters, and other societal hazards.
With 112 days remaining in the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which ends on November 30, NEMA remains vigilant and ready to respond to any future landfalling storms. Colorado State University has raised the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast to 24 named storms. This means another 15 named storms after Isaias are expected to develop this hurricane season with 10 of those storms being forecast to become hurricanes and five of those hurricanes reaching at least Category 3 intensity. This could be the second most active hurricane season in recorded history.
BE PREPARED. HAVE A PLAN. BE SAFE!