Continuous updates on Tropical Storm Isaac

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7:49 a.m. – Isaac tromps on, skirting the north coast of Cuba and still on track to cross the Keys and into the Gulf. It now tracks more to the west, heading towards the northern Gulf for New Orleans and Louisiana.

6:48 a.m. – The latest computer models place Tampa Bay communities outside the cone of uncertainty. But a slight shift in Isaac’s path could change its course again.

11:46 p.m. – Look at Isaac’s current track past Tampa at midday Monday. Tropical storm strength winds onshore concern about tornadoes from storms that spin off the outer bands. Plus, if moving north slowly there could be a small surge and flooding in the lowest areas.

11:36 p.m. – The National Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the Tampa area just hours after the program for the first night of the Republican National Convention was scrapped amid preparations for Tropical Storm Isaac.

12:37 p.m. – The probabilities of tropical force winds impacting regions of Florida:

12:10 p.m. – Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for Florida.

8:32 a.m. – Tropical Storm Isaac is emerging from the Haiti coast and forecasters have upped the ante, issuing hurricane warnings and watches through the parts of Florida.

6:24 a.m. – Tampa may escape the full brunt of hurricane force winds next week, but it appears increasingly likely that the Republican National Convention won’t be able to avoid some impact from what is now Tropical Storm Isaac. A significant weather event is likely to cause high winds and rain in the Tampa Bay area, even if the storm sticks to its current track and has a more significant effect farther west on the Gulf Coast.

5:00 a.m. – The track seems to have shifted back a bit to the east, bringing Miami back into the cone. We’ve already had a lot of rain from the outer bands, and the Weather Channel is crawling with tropical storm warnings.

1:00 a.m. – Tropical Storm Isaac is “getting better organized,” as it moves northwest toward Haiti, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning. The Tampa Bay area still is within the cone of uncertainty, with Isaac projected to arrive Tuesday morning, as a Category 1 hurricane.

7:46 p.m. – The Tampa Bay area remains in the five-day cone of uncertainty, as seven Florida counties are put on tropical storm watch.

7:32 p.m. – New weather projections about Tropical Storm Isaac have Gov. Rick Scott increasingly concerned the storm will hit North Florida, he said at a press briefing late Friday.

2:17 p.m. – The odds of Isaac–a storm with very big winspan–at least brushing Tampa with high winds and rain getting a lot higher.

2:06 p.m. – As Tropical Storm Isaac moves toward the southern coast of Hispaniola, forecasters and emergency managers in the Tampa Bay area are continuing to watch the storm closely. … While the storm’s projected path has moved to the west, the entire Tampa Bay region remains in the National Hurricane Center’s five-day “cone of uncertainty.” The forecast cone is used to show the areas that might be impacted as a tropical system moves through. … The hurricane center’s 11 a.m. update for Aug. 24 shows all Bay area counties within the cone’s eastern boundary. This has emergency managers throughout the area continuing to watch the storm’s progression closely. Most counties and municipal authorities throughout the Bay are issuing regular updates and many areas are offering residents free sandbags to help out in the event of flooding.

7:28 a.m. – Any chance part of the convention could be postponed? “I don’t see why it would,” Scott tells CNN. “The convention will go on.”

6:08 a.m. – Just as the storm had began to drift left away from Florida, the latest track shows Isaac bending back towards the state.

6:00 a.m. – The storm’s failure to gain the kind of strength in the Caribbean that forecasters initially projected made it more likely that Isaac won’t become a hurricane until it enters the Gulf of Mexico, said Eric Blake, a forecaster with U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

10:08 p.m. – Bay News 9’s Brian McClure: The weaker a tropical storm is the less the atmosphere has pull on it; may be what is letting it inch westward.

9:25 p.m. – “The models are all over the place right now and we’re not going to declare a state of emergency until we’ve got a higher probability of the storm coming here,” said Pinellas County spokesman Tom Iovino.

8:09 p.m. – Appearing at ease and exuding confidence, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn went on national TV late Thursday and essentially told Republicans to relax and come on down, reports David Royse and Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

7:00 p.m. – Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn “not particularly worried.” Tells Wolf Blitzer “Isaac is just a distraction.”

6:42 p.m. – City of Tallahassee just sent out email warning utility customers to be ready for “impending storm.” (Via Gary Fineout.)

5:45 p.m. – Entire state of Florida  now projected to be in cone of uncertainty/danger:

5:36 p.m. – Gov. Rick Scott has cancelled travel plans for Friday so he can stay in the Capital and monitor changes in Tropical Storm Isaac’s development.

5:15 p.m. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency is positioning supplies in Jacksonville in anticipation of Tropical Storm Isaac, reports the News Service of Florida.

The federal agency, led by former Florida emergency chief Craig Fugate, has begun shipping MRE’s and generator units to a distribution center in advance of the storm. Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said state warehouses are stocked but responders are waiting for more information on the storm’s path before pre-positioning material. “We’re not quite sure where it is going so we don’t want to move supplies into the path of the storm,” Koon told reporters Thursday.

The National Guard has been alerted and plans call for the guard to bolster security should law enforcement need to be redeployed from the Republican National Convention. Upwards of 4,000 law enforcement officials are expected to provide security for the event, which is expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors to the Tampa Bay region.

2:27 p.m. – Some chances of tropical storm force next 5 days: Key West 39% Miami 33% Tampa 24% Cocoa Beach 18%.

2:24 p.m. –  “We’re going to have a convention,” Reince Priebus said.

2:2o p.m. – @bduryeatimes: Is there a name for this two-headed news beast? RepubliCANE, perhaps? #Isaac #RNC2012

2:00 p.m. – Isaac is spinning westward across the eastern Caribbean Sea and so far has not become much better organized as of late Thursday morning. However, strengthening is forecast and Isaac could become a strong tropical storm or hurricane on Friday, assuming the inner core of the storm becomes better defined.

12:59 p.m. – Sarasota County officials could declare a state of emergency at a special meeting tomorrow afternoon to prepare for Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to develop into a hurricane. … Declaring a state of emergency allows the county to spend money freely on emergency situations as they arise, without going though the typical and slow process of board approval. The county did the same for Tropical Storm Debby in late June, allowing it to pay for things like pumping sewage out of lift stations overwhelmed by rain.

11:55 a.m. – The projected path for Tropical Storm Isaac was adjusted to the west Thursday morning with a new model showing the center track of the storm pushing up into the Gulf of Mexico, but shooting past the Tampa Bay area out at sea. The Tampa area, where 50,000 people will gather for the Republican National Convention starting this weekend, remains in the cone of possible paths, but now is on the eastern edge of that cone. While good news for the Tampa Bay area, the new track is bad news for the Panhandle, which could see a direct hit later next week if the storm continues in its current projected path

9:24 a.m. – “The most important thing, of course, is my speech Monday night,” jokes Gov. Scott.

8:53 a.m. – “Governor, do you believe in omens?”

8:51 a.m. – Gov. Rick Scott said that state emergency officials will be working with Republican National Convention leaders in tracking the course of Tropical Storm Isaac, but that a decision on whether to delay or postpone the gathering planned for Tampa next week will be up to the GOP.

8:12 a.m. – The National Hurricane Center in Miami expects Isaac to restrengthen into hurricane after moving into the Florida straits early next week.

8:09 a.m. – “We’re in full RNC mode and focused on putting a great show for the convention,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn says. “We are not anticipating having to make the decision” of canceling the GOP convention.

7:26 a.m. –  From The Weather Channel: There is a high probability that the United States will see impacts from Isaac. Strengthening and heading toward Florida over weekend, but track uncertain.

7:11 a.m. – Gov. Rick Scott will hold a short media briefing regarding Florida’s preparations for Tropical Storm Isaac at the State Emergency Operations Center.  The Governor will make 3-5 minutes of remarks and then take questions from the media.

5:00 a.m. – Tropical Storm Isaac continues to move westward near the Caribbean Sea, although the storm became slightly weaker overnight. Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft finds Tropical Storm Isaac slightly weaker and farther south.

5:00 p.m. – These tracks are getting worse and worse for Tampa Bay:

3:50 p.m. – “It’s too early to say, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s going to be a disaster,’ ” said Dan Kottlowski, expert senior meteorologist with AccuWeather Forecast. (H/t to Michael Kruse.)

3:32 p.m. – The master of modeling, the New York Times‘ Nate Silver says “Hurricane forecasts have gotten A LOT better. But still huge uncertainty at this stage.”

2:00 p.m. – The latest track:

1:51 p.m. – Statement from Gov. Rick Scott:

“Although Tropical Storm Isaac is still far from Florida’s shores, we are closely tracking the potential for the storm to impact part or all of the state, including the Tampa Bay region during the Republican National Convention.  Florida’s state emergency management team and local emergency teams have been working closely with convention officials and have been planning for this event for more than a year, and the possibility of a hurricane hitting the convention has been part of that planning process.

“I am confident in our preparation, and the decision process in place to ensure the safety of both our residents and visitors during the convention.

“As Florida’s governor, I’m urging everyone across the state to monitor the storm track, and use the next several days to prepare for a potential storm.  As we know, storms this far from land are still unpredictable and everyone should be vigilant and prepared.”

12:46 p.m.  – ABC News meteorologist Dennis Phillips has a very helpful post on his Facebook page:

Tropical Update: In spite of the NHC forecast that looks more nerve wracking, the information hasn’t changed. It’s really simple folks. There is a giant bubble of air protecting the Southeast. It’s called a ridge. That ridge is expected to

 crack by Saturday. The LOCATION of the crack is key. The models are completely split on where that crack occurs. Some say it cracks to the right, and Issac missed Florida to the East. The Gfs cracks the ridge more to the left, and Issac crosses Cuba and hits Florida on Monday and Tuesday. The GFS says the ridge cracks late and brings Isaac into the Gulf to hit LA or Tx as a major hurricane. As we said yesterday, we won’t know until late Friday or Saturday. So until then, the models will flip flop, so might the forecasts…but THAT is the forecast is a nutshell. Here is what you need to do. Finish off your hurricane kits. Have everything you need in case the GFS is correct. IF it is, we will likely have strong tropical storm force winds or possibly hurricane force winds later Monday or Tuesday. If the other 2 possibilities are correct, we won’t see a thing. If the GFS is correct, I would expect winds between 60 and 80 mph on Tuesday. IF it’s right. There is a better chance it isn’t.

12:15 p.m. – “The spaghetti plots show agreement of a turn to the northwest,” Bay News 9 Meteorologist Juli Marques says. “It’s something we will continue to watch over the next few days.”

11:45 a.m. – Wasn’t life better before you knew what the term “cone of uncertainty” meant. The Tampa Bay Times‘ Michael Kruse believes “It’s such a good phrase. It’s a declaration. It’s an admission. It’s a metaphor. And there’s something somehow apt about the crashing-together of those four words and a major political convention.”

11:41 a.m. – @SteveBeste: Florida Hurricane Coverage is usually hysterical on Local TV. It will go to Defcon 9 with Nervous Nelly DC Journos here.

11:00 a.m. – The new track for Isaac has it coming up the West Coast of Florida:

9:11 a.m. – Tampa won’t hesitate to pull the plug on the Republican National Convention next week if Tropical Storm Isaac threatens the Tampa Bay area as a major storm, mayor Bob Buckhorn told CNN this morning.

“Well, absolutely, we’re prepared to call it off,” Buckhorn said on the network’s Early Start with John Berman. “I mean, safety and human life trump politics. I think the RNC recognizes that. The organizers, certainly Gov. (Mitt) Romney, recognize that.”

9:06 a.m. – As Gary Fineout notes, half the state of Florida is in the ‘cone of danger’ for Isaac under new advisory.

9:03 a.m. – The National Hurricane Center’s latest report noted Wednesday morning that tropical storm Isaac is getting “better organized” as it nears the U.S. coast.

8:22 a.m. – @MarcACaputo: What would be worse for the RNC? Hurricane Isaac or Hurricane Akin?

7:17 a.m. – Dana Milbank wonders if it could be seen as divine retribution; after all, didn’t Pat Robertson and Michele Bachmann warn us about God smiting us for bad behavior with hurricanes?

7:08 a.m. – The most recent hurricane hunter mission into TD 9 was scheduled for 2 a.m., and there will be a new mission launched every six hours. The NOAA jet is first scheduled to fly into the storm on Thursday afternoon, to do a large-scale dropsonde mission to aid model forecasts.

7:06 a.m. – It’s much too early to say with any certainty whether it will gain hurricane strength or make a beeline for Tampa. But this is the type of weather that convention organizers knew was a possibility during the peak of hurricane season — and they have backup plans in place in a worst-case scenario.

5:01 a.m. – The latest forecast:

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.