Storm surge expected as Isaac passes Tampa Bay

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It’s becoming less and less likely Tampa Bay will take a direct hit from Isaac as it makes its way north through the Gulf of Mexico.

Even so, forecasters say the Bay area isn’t out of the danger zone just yet. The tropical storm, which is expected to reach hurricane strength sometime later today, is anticipated to bring a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet to the Tampa Bay area. It’s also likely Isaac will bring heavy rain, gusty winds and the potential for isolated tornados as it moves through the area.

“Even though the center should be offshore, (we) should get several inches of rain,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Tyler Fleming. From Sarasota up to Pasco County, “across that whole area, 4 to 8 inches (of rain is possible) throughout the entire storm.”

Fleming said some areas could end up seeing more or less rain.

Conditions in the Tampa Bay area are expected to start deteriorating later today.

“Isolated tornados (are) possible (and) gusty winds will be an issue,” Fleming said. “Later today, we’ll start seeing much more rain and winds picking up.”

The storm surge forecast of 3 to 5 feet applies to the entire Tampa Bay coastal area. In the area north of Crystal River, the surge could reach 4 to 7 feet, Fleming said.

Coastal and inland flooding are both possible as Isaac makes its way past the Tampa Bay region, forecasters say.

As of 5 a.m. today, Aug. 26, Isaac had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. The storm is moving northwest at 18 mph. and is currently positioned off Cuba. It is expected to pass the Keys later today, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 a.m. advisory.

Forecasters anticipate the storm will wreak havoc on Tampa Bay weather through Monday. The first day of the Republican National Convention has already been canceled in anticipation of the storm. Throughout the Bay area, counties are declaring local states of emergency.

All Tampa Bay area counties, including Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee, remain under a Tropical Storm Warning. This means tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 36 hours.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.