LAKE WORTH BEACH (CBSMiami) – It was definitely not a beach day along South Florida’s coast line as Tropical Storm Isaias churned up the water, sending waves crashing into the Lake Worth Beach pier.

Saturday afternoon, as the storm remained off the coast, the ocean was rough.

Two to three feet of storm surge is expected here before it’s over.  The beaches are closed.

Police are out on patrol, making sure people stay out of the water.

It wasn’t long, though, before officers spotted two guys in the heavy surf.

“You guys are trespassing on the beach,” the deputy said on the loud speaker. “Why don’t you come in, for your safety,” he asked.

As their heads bobbed above and below the waves, police told them if they run into trouble, no one will be there to rescue them.

After some 5 minutes of coaxing, they finally got out of the water, just in time.  Just as they reached the beach, a strong squall moved in.

Sporadic feeder bands have been bringing tropical storm force wind gusts and bouts of heavy rain.

No mandatory evacuations had been ordered as Isaias churned off Florida’s Atlantic coast on Saturday.

Due to social-distancing measures recommended in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Ron DeSantis said officials may refrain from ordering evacuations unless absolutely necessary.

“In the era of COVID, I think our guidance from the state has been, look, if it’s a close call, err on the side of people just hunkering down, rather than sending people on the road,” he said at the Saturday evening briefing. “But obviously, if there does come a point, if you’re in an area and the storm is threatening and that decision is made, we ask you to follow it.”

Palm Beach County officials opened a handful of shelters on Saturday, and issued voluntary evacuation orders in certain areas for individuals in mobile homes and flood zones.

“This will be a very close call for Palm Beach County,” Bill Johnson, the county’s emergency management director, said at a 4 p.m. briefing Saturday. “Because of COVID-19, we continue to feel that you are safer at home.”

Johnson said there were 150 people, who are required to wear face coverings, at the county shelters Saturday afternoon. A pet-friendly shelter had 15 dogs, 8 cats and one bird, he said.

The county is under a hurricane warning, a tropical storm warning, a coastal flood advisory and a high surface-wind advisory.

Meanwhile, as with other South Florida counties, Palm Beach County remains a hot spot for the coronavirus, reporting 580 new cases on Saturday.

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner acknowledged the difficulty of facing the threat from Isaias at the same time as coping with the pandemic.

“I know it’s a lot to contend with as a community,” Kerner told reporters during Saturday afternoon’s briefing at the county Emergency Operations Center. “But we cannot let our foot off the gas in terms of our response and our diligence in social distancing and making sure that we remain safe and do not transmit COVID-19.”

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Ted Scouten

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