Of course on Sunday morning handfuls of residents decided to go to the beach to watch the storm roll in.

Other than an increasingly choppy Atlantic Ocean and an occasional gust of wind, it might have surprised those who haven’t been following the news that Tropical Storm Isaias was slowly crawling up the coast toward Volusia and Flagler counties.


Many people continued to swim and surf along the beach, although the numbers lessened as the ocean grew more volatile.


There was no rush for last-minute shopping at grocery and hardware stores.


And on Flagler Avenue in News Smyrna Beach, restaurants and bars were busy at 5 p.m. The sky was still sunny. The only sign of potentially violent weather approaching was the beginning of cloud cover and more wind than normal.


According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm’s potential brunt still lay about 60 miles south of Volusia County late Sunday afternoon. Isaias had stalled during the day, and was moving just off the coast at less than 9 mph.


Most of the storm’s precipitation and wind seemed to be on its east side, away from the shore. The eye of Isaias was not expected to reach the Daytona Beach area until late Tuesday night.



But the possibility of the storm, and the increasingly churning ocean, still attracted people.


On Sunday morning, handfuls of residents decided to go to the beach to watch the storm roll in. Some thunderclouds could be seen offshore. There was the occasional light shower, and increasing winds. Around Sunsplash Park and the Daytona Beach pier, "Isaias" was a frequently heard word.


One of the few nonresidents in the area was surfer Joe Garcia, who’s from Kansas City, Missouri. He finished up a work-related trip Sunday but brought his surfboard with him and was looking for Isaias to churn up some tasty waves.


"It’s electric in the air. You can definitely feel something’s about to happen," Garcia said. "When it gets crazy, the surfing gets real good."


Garcia’ was not sure whether he would leave Sunday night or Monday morning, but said he was prepared to ride out the rough weather if necessary. Until things get worse, he said he’s going to enjoy the waves.


As of the 5 p.m. update, Isaias was still south of Cape Canaveral, with maximum sustained winds nearing 70 mph. The storm was expected to continue hugging the coastline until it passes Volusia and Flagler counties. It could reach hurricane status at some point on Monday, and will turn to the north and northeast before crashing into the Carolinas sometime later this week.


The hurricane center continued to predict that Isaias could dump up to 4 inches of rain on Volusia and Flagler counties before it passes the area. The coast could see a storm surge of up to 3 feet. At 5 p.m., the hurricane center predicted the center of Isaias would pass close to the Volusia County coast between 2 a.m. and sunrise Monday.


The storm’s slow pace and slight weakening seemed to lower concerns. Sunday afternoon, Volusia County announced that it has closed the four shelters that were opened that morning due to lack of interest in using them.


Kate Sark, community information specialist for the county, said the county would adjust if shelters do become needed.


Our emergency coverage on Hurricane Isaias is being provided free as a public service to our readers. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Volusia County also sent out a news release Sunday afternoon announcing court facilities in the 7th Judicial Circuit will be closed Monday due to Isaias. First appearances will go on as scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Monday at Volusia County Branch Jail.


The county also announced that barring any unforeseen circumstances, Votran is expected to resume normal operations on Monday after the storm has moved out of the area.


As of Sunday afternoon, neither Volusia or Flagler counties had received any reports of property damage. Flagler County sent out a news release Sunday afternoon saying opening its emergency shelters will be unnecessary, and don’t plan to open them.


Though thankfully no longer the hurricane it was two days ago, Isaias was still an attraction as it approached Sunday.


"The rain is always exciting for us to see," said Susan Guzman, who went out to the beach with her husband, Frank. "We love watching the waves turn."


The couple have lived in Daytona Beach for 13 years, and said they aren’t worried at all about the rough weather, as they’ve been prepared for a storm since the beginning of hurricane season on June 1. After living through several hurricanes, they said they know the drill.


"Honestly, it’s just nice that it’s not so hot out," Susan Guzman said. "We figured it would be nice to come out and see how things were doing."


Since its formation, Isaias has been fluid, upgrading to a hurricane and then downgrading to a tropical storm, as well as changing speeds, size and direction.


Cassie Leahy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Melbourne location, said weak hurricanes and strong tropical storms tend to do this.


"It’s still a strong tropical storm, which is not something to take lightly, especially not near the barrier islands," Leahy said. "Especially with these storms, it’s kind of common for them to regenerate their centers, which makes it harder for them to forecast."


There was a small chance Isaias could make landfal, when the center of the storm approached Cape Canaveral. The most recent tropical storm to make landfall in Florida during the month of August was in 2009, when Claudette made landfall near Fort Walton Beach.


"No matter what, we’re just going to ride it out," said Marcio Perez, who’s spending time with his family in Deltona. "It’s always good to be prepared, but I’m not really worried about it at all."


Perez, 24, spent the morning on the beach near Sunsplash Park. He lives in Washington, D.C. now, and said it felt appropriate that a tropical storm is passing by just as he’s visiting family.


"These storms are like clockwork," Perez said. "Why worry about it when you can get ready for it? We’ve got food and water. We’re all set to go."