Wednesday, August 22, 2012

UPDATED at 5 p.m.: TS Isaac growing, still on track for Florida

UPDATED at 5 p.m.: Isaac will affect Florida, emergency officials say. 

A bigger, faster and stronger Tropical Storm Isaac is moving over the Leeward Islands on its way westward, the National Weather Service says.

At 5 p.m.Wednesday, Isaac is about 25 miles south-southeast of the island of Guadeloupe with sustained winds near 45 mph, with higher gusts. Based on surface observations and hurricane hunter aircraft, tropical storm force winds are extending outward up to 80 miles, mainly to the north of the center of the storm.

Isaac's center is near latitude 16.0 north, longitude 61.2 west. The storm is moving toward the west at 22 mph and should move near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday, approaching the Dominican Republic Thursday night and Friday.

More strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours. Isaac could become a hurricane Thursday night or Friday.

The government of the Dominican Republic has issued a hurricane warning for the south coast from Isla Saona westward to the Haiti-Dominican Republic southern border. A hurricane watch has been issued for all of Haiti.

Various computer models show Isaac tracking west into the Caribbean, where numerous variables would determine whether it threatens Florida or any other part of the southeastern United States.

Long-range models have this system close to South Florida by Monday.

We're only five days out from the opening of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, scheduled to run Monday through Thursday. As Mayor Bob Buckhorn told CNN Wednesday morning, Tampa won't hesitate to pull the plug on the convention if Tropical Storm Isaac threatens the Tampa Bay area as a major storm.
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