The good news is that Tropical Storm Isaac’s projected forward moment has slowed somewhat overnight.
The bad news is Tampa Bay is still in line with the storm’s path as it makes its way north into the Gulf of Mexico.
While earlier projections anticipated the storm to be off the coast of Tampa Bay by about 8 p.m. on Monday, the latest forecast track has the storm arriving around 2 a.m. Tuesday. That is the second day of the Republican National Convention in downtown Tampa.
Right now, the storm is southeast of the Dominican Republic and has maximum sustained winds of about 40 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Despite the projected path, National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Davis said it’s still too early to say for sure what, if any, impacts Isaac will have on the Tampa Bay region.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty on the track of Isaac,” Davis said.
Should the storm, which is expected to reach hurricane strength before it arrives in the area, stay off Tampa’s coast “we could have some very stormy conditions,” he added.
With Tampa Bay forecast to be on the storm’s right side, Davis said residents need to be mindful that hazardous conditions are quite possible.
“Traditionally with tropical systems, the right side of the storm is the stronger side,” he said. That means “strong, gusty winds; the threat for tornadoes is increased.”
Tampa Bay got a preview of what being on the right side of a storm means earlier this year when Tropical Storm Debby paid the area a visit, Davis pointed out.
As Isaac makes it way in Tampa’s general direction, Davis said the potential for flooding is a real concern. Since the area has already been soaked thanks to Debby and afternoon storms, “any additional rains could exacerbate flooding problems.”
‘This is a Very Sensitive Time’
With thousands of visitors preparing to make their way to the Tampa Bay area for the Aug. 27-30 Republican National Convention, all eyes are on Isaac and the potential harm it might bring the region’s way.
“This is a very sensitive time coming up,” Davis said. “We’re briefing emergency managers and other government and federal officials. There are briefings around the clock.”
With the storm still days out, Davis offers this advice: “Dust off those family hurricane plans and continue to watch for it and plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
In the meantime, the Tampa Bay area is in for some slightly better weather as we head into the weekend. Today’s rain chances are between 40 and 50 percent, Davis said. Those chances lessen slightly through the weekend.
Stay with Patch for updates on Tropical Storm Isaac as they become available.