Weather watchers help planners prepare for Republican National Convention visitors

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It’s going to be anything but a day at the beach for the thousands of visitors headed here in late August, as Republicans converge on Tampa right in the midst of our most intense weather, reports Bill Logan, ABC Action News

“We’re really looking at hurricane potential,” said Brian LaMarre of the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay Office.  “Even lightning is going to be one of the main things we’re going to be looking at,” he added.

At the Ruskin offices of the NWS, preparations are already under way to take machines and manpower downtown to help support the Emergency Operations Center during the Republican National Convention.

“It’s very important  that all of our skill sets and all of our subject matter expertise is identified and located at that one centralized location,” said Chief Thomas Forward of Tampa Fire Rescue.

“Why is it so important to have them on site?” I asked.

“Because,” he explained, “We can get the information as timely and as expedient as they can pull it up from the National Weather Service in Ruskin.”

We can’t tell you exactly where the Emergency Operations Center is going to be, it’s a top-secret sort of thing, but we can say that weather has been a part of it since they started discussing it.

Actually, the template for adding weather watchers goes back to the 2008 Gasparilla Invasion, which came a week after a heavy rain event washed out the children’s parade.

“That actually led to our invitation to the National Weather Service from the Hillsborough County Emergency manager to be live in the Emergency Operations Center for the Pirate Invasion the following weekend,” explained LaMarre.

And if it’s good enough for pirates, it’s got to be good enough for politics.

“Our main role is for the safety of the public.  To make sure they have information directly from us and for a very successful event for Tampa,” he added.

That’s what everyone is hoping for.

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.