Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Updated at 11 p.m.: Isaac could reach SW Florida by Monday

Tropical Storm Isaac is moving through the eastern Caribbean Sea and could reach our area by late Monday, the National Weather Service predicts. But the storm is still too far away to be certain it will actually hit the Tampa Bay area.

Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay reports the storm's actual path could very easily go west or east of Florida.

"With an average error on Tropical Storm Isaac's forecast track still 5 days out," Clay said, "the margin for error is 225 miles and forecasting how strong the storm will be this far out is not possible.

Although there is good model agreement on bringing Isaac south of Puerto Rico and into Hispaniola, "we’ve looked very carefully at the details of the model solutions in days 4 and 5, and there is tremendous disagreement on the pattern, even within just one of the models," Clay said.

At 11 p.m. Tuesday, Issac was centered at 15.8N, 63.0W, about 270 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It's maximum sustained winds were 45 mph, moving west at 20 mph.

Many Caribbean islands closed schools and government offices Tuesday.

The storm is expected to eventually turn northwest, where it could pose a threat to Florida because of two high pressure systems that could steer the storm if it isn't broken up by mountains on its trek across the Caribbean, Clay said.

"A weakness in the subtropical high could bring Isaac up toward Florida by the end of the weekend and early next week. Conditions appear to be very favorable for strengthening by that time."

Isaac is expected to hit the Dominican Republic as a hurricane early Friday. It is then expected to hit Cuba as a tropical storm.

The storm is threatening to disrupt events at the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week. 
Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Wednesday morning that Tampa won't hesitate to pull the plug on the Republican National Convention if Isaac threatens the Tampa Bay area as a major storm, but the convention is an all go as of Wednesday night.

 Tropical Depression 10

Of less concern locally is Tropical Depression 10, which formed earlier Tuesday far eastern Atlantic and is expected to become Tropical Storm Joyce within the next couple of days.

The system is tracking northwest, and most computer models show it away from Florida.

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