Be wary of strong winds, too. Wind speeds could reach up to 50 miles per hour on the Interstate 1-95 corridor, which could knock down trees and cause power outages (I’m in Baltimore, so I should probably find my external phone battery ASAP). Other parts of Maryland could see 60-mph winds, and in New York City, winds could be reportedly be even stronger, reaching 69 miles per hour—the strongest winds in the region since Hurricane Sandy. Many areas could also see flash floods and river overflows.


Because flooding, felled trees, and power outages aren’t enough to deal with, the storm could also create another complication by unleashing toxic floodwaters along its path. The infrastructure damage caused by recent storms, including 2017's Hurricane Harvey and 2018's Hurricane Florence, have caused industrial waste to spill into nearby communities and waterways, and Isaias threatens to do the same.

“The storm could swamp industrial facilities, coal ash ponds, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and more,” Matthew Shudtz, executive director of the Center for Progressive Reform, said in a statement emailed to Earther. Along the storm’s projected path in Virginia, for instance, a shocking 2,700 industrial facilities could unleash toxic and hazardous chemicals into nearby communities along the James River watershed, a 2020 Center for Progressive Reform report found.


It’s difficult to link any individual instance of extreme weather to the climate crisis, but one June study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that North America saw 5% more rain in 2010 than it did in 1961. In the case of Isaias in particular, climate change has certainly created the ideal conditions for storms to wreak serious havoc. Since sea levels have been pushed up due to melting ice and thermal expansion in the warming waters, storm surges and coastal flooding will be more severe, and since the air and ocean are both warming, more water vapor can evaporate up into the atmosphere and produce heavier rainfall. If world leaders continue to waste valuable time by not enacting stronger climate policies, we should expect to see a whole lot more of these scary storms in the future. The authors of the June study in PNAS found that if the world warms by another single degree Celsius, North American rain events which now occur once every 20 years could occur every five years.

There’s still some uncertainty about what exactly the impact of Isaias will be along the East Coast. We don’t know exactly how strong winds will be or how much rain will fall. But there’s no question that communities should be prepared.