Georgia coast braces for Isaias, expected to become a hurricane again

ST. SIMON'S ISLAND — The surf is high on St. Simons Island as Tropical Storm Isaias moves slowly off the coasts of Georgia and Florida.

Channel 2′s Tony Thomas is there where he says the storm’s outer rain bands are coming through every once in a while, but for the most part the Georgia coast has been spared.

Thomas said there were surfers out in the water enjoying the waves, and there have been no reports of flooding.

“It’s fun because we don’t get waves like this on the island unless it’s a hurricane or tropical depression,” said resident Sue Brown.

[DOWNLOAD: WSB-TV’s Weather App for LIVE radar of Isaias]

While the storm is stirring up trouble for the rest of the Atlantic coast, for Georgia’s Golden Isles and residents on the island, it’s been simply a passing concern.

“I’m always worried because you never know what’s going to happen. When it’s over I’m not worried,” said resident Trisha Francis.

As of 11 a.m., the storm has maximum sustained winds remain near 70 mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast this afternoon, and Isaias is expected to regain hurricane strength just before it reaches the coast of northeastern South Carolina or southern North Carolina tonight.

It appears the cove effect of Georgia’s coast has helped again. Emergency managers in Glynn County expect 20 to 30 mph winds and a potential storm surge of 1 to 3 feet is still possible.

Officials have asked people to shelter in place but the lure of the ocean is simply too great for some.

“It’s definitely alright to get the surf and a little of the wind without the damage for sure,” said resident Brian Murphy.

The type of weather is what is expected for the rest of the day along the coast.

Vacationers were a little bit more concerned. Alex Jenkins, who lives in Hall County, decided to cut his vacation short.

“It looks like it’s going to pass by, but we didn’t want to chance it,” Jenkins said.

Glynn County EMA Director Alec Eaton said a storm surge between one and three feet is possible on marsh lands, but the latest forecast is “good news” for the Golden Isles.

“We have some decent news,” Eaton said. “Some improving news.”

Still, Eaton is warning residents and tourists to stay off the roads Sunday night through Monday.

Carroll said he wasn’t worried.

“We’re just going to take shelter in a hotel if I feel funny enough about it,” Carroll said.