Hurricane Isaias is churning its way towards Florida, and could impact Walt Disney World this weekend. In this post, we’ll update you on the storm’s status, when it’ll likely be felt in Central Florida, what to do, and more. (Updated August 1, 2020.)
We’ve been tracking Isaias in its progression from Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine to Tropical Storm Isaias to Hurricane Isaias in our Tips for Hurricane & Storm Season at Walt Disney World post. However, that’s meant to be generalized tips, WDW policy, and historical info about closures. Accordingly, we wanted to break this out and offer more thorough updates on the hurricane.
What was previously Tropical Storm Isaias was officially designated as a Category 1 storm by the National Hurricane Center. Overnight, the Category 1 storm’s maximum sustained winds fell to 80 mph, but its forward motion slowed down to 12 mph as it continued moving northwest on Saturday.
Hurricane Isaias is projected to churn up to 90 mph, before parking off Florida’s Treasure Coast by Saturday night with 85 mph sustained winds and higher gusts. Isaias’ hurricane-force winds extend 45 miles from its core, and its tropical-storm-force winds can reach up to 205 miles. Isaias was last located about 40 miles west of Nassau and 135 miles of Freeport Grand Bahama Island.
At present, the National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane warnings for most of the Bahamas. Florida still remains in Hurricane Isaias’ projected path, but the storm is now expected to move parallel along Florida’s coast. If that forecast holds, Hurricane Isaias will graze the east coast but not make landfall.
The National Hurricane Center has forecast 2 to 4 inches of rain with some areas in South Florida and East-Central Florida seeing up to 6 inches that could result in flash flooding, especially in areas with poor drainage. The Orlando and Walt Disney World areas are included in this forecast, with winds up to 40 miles per hour. Coastal surf conditions are expected to grow by Saturday with dangerous rip conditions.
As of Saturday, Orange County is under a tropical storm warning. Communities between the Volusia-Flagler County Line to Ponte Vedra Beach are also under a tropical storm warning. Brevard County was issued a hurricane warning by the National Weather Service.
Anyone who has experienced storm season in Florida knows these forecasts can–and usually do–change. Already this morning, a hurricane watch was issued for coastal counties after two hurricane models pushed Isaias’ projected path to the west, putting its path over a greater portion of Florida.
In the past few years, hurricanes originally forecast to miss Florida entirely have swerved towards the state and others with a high probability of wreaking havoc have weakened at the last minute. We have witnessed this ourselves with both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Dorian. Hopefully, Hurricane Isaias will drift eastwards rather than wobbling to the west.
Florida Govenor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for every east coast county from Miami-Dade to Nassau in an executive order Friday morning during a press conference. He urged Floridians to have seven days worth of supplies and to stay tuned to local media for the latest forecast updates.
Governor DeSantis said that Florida is fully prepared for this and any future storm with the state operations center at Level 1 readiness. He reiterated that the situation remains fluid and could change quickly, further saying, “the most recent forecast brings the eye closer to the coast so we just have to be vigilant. Please heed the warnings of your local officials.”
The operational impact on Walt Disney World is still unknown, aside from the aforementioned heavy rains and winds this weekend. Right now, it appears that heavy rains and gusty winds should be expected over the weekend in Central Florida. Nevertheless, local leaders are taking measures to prepare for the worst should Isaias hit Central Florida, and are encouraging residents to stay home and take shelter.
Thus far, Walt Disney World has not issued any closures, warnings, or operational updates. In a normal year, when a storm is approaching Florida, DisneyWorld.com will have a website banner that indicates how the parks & resorts will or will not be impacted. For example, last year there was a banner stating: “Walt Disney World Resort is operating under normal conditions. We are closely monitoring the path of the projected weather, as nothing is more important than the safety of our Guests and Cast Members.“
Of course, 2020 is anything but a normal year. Regardless, the fact that Walt Disney World isn’t even relocating guests staying at Fort Wilderness (which is usually the very first thing to happen) means that Disney doesn’t anticipate any operational impacts as a result of Hurricane Isaias.
Again, that’s not to say things could change, but it would seem that models would have to show Hurricane Isaias both intensifying and tracking sharply to the west for any significant impact. At this point, we’re thus just expecting heavy rain and wind…and not much else. Hopefully that remains the case. Regardless, you’ll want to keep tabs on Hurricane Isaias if you have plans of visiting Walt Disney World this weekend. We’ll keep you posted!
Are you expecting that Hurricane Isaias will impact Walt Disney World? Are you currently in Central Florida? Have you visited during past hurricanes? Any additional info, thoughts, or first-hand experiences to share about riding out a hurricane at Walt Disney World? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!