Gov. Phil Murphy late Monday issued a state of emergency declaration, effective at 5 a.m. Tuesday, in anticipation of Isaias — the severe storm climbing the East Coast and expected to hit the Garden State that day.

Murphy asked in a tweet that residents stay off the road unless absolutely necessary.

"If you MUST drive, take it slow, use caution, and leave extra time to get to your destination," he said.

A state of emergency does not, in itself, put travel restrictions into effect. The declaration is used to mobilize resources and qualify for certain funding. But roadways may be hazardous as the storm hits New Jersey, with its eventual intensity still unclear.

A newly restrengthened Isaias was speeding toward the Carolinas late Monday, after having regained hurricane strength, with sustained winds of 85 mph. It was centered about 60 miles south of Myrtle Beach late in the evening.

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A tropical storm warning extended all the way up to Maine, where flash flooding was possible in some areas

Lite Rock 96.9 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said Monday night a storm surge was possible along the Jersey Shore, but said that wasn't the Garden State's "biggest concern."

"The official (National Hurricane Center) forecast calls for '1 to 3 feet,'" Zarrow wrote on Facebook. "I'm leaning toward the lower end of that range, for two reasons: 1) The strongest winds will blow from the south, not directly on-shore from the east. 2) The peak of the storm will NOT coincide with high tide on the ocean tomorrow (9 a.m. and 9 p.m.).

"Minor category coastal flooding is still likely at high tide. We'll especially have to watch beaches with a more southern exposure (Cumberland, Cape May, Atlantic counties). Back bays too," Zarrow wrote.

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By then, thunderstorms had already progressed north into Burlington, Ocean, and Monmouth counties, he said.

Zarrow said late Monday the storm seemed to be coming on faster than previously expected, with "a slightly earlier mid-morning arrival time of the 'brunt' in (southwest New Jersey) and maybe even kicking out most of the rain and the worst wind by dinnertime."

"That would be great news. The shorter Isaias's visit (Tuesday), the better," he said.

— Includes information from the Associated Press