The latest projections call for Tropical Storm Isaac to move even further to the west of the Tampa Bay area, but forecasters at the National Weather Service are saying it’s still too early for the region to breathe a sigh of relief.
“It’s a pretty big storm,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Ernie Jillson. “Tropical storm force winds are extending 180 miles to the northeast of the center.”
With this in mind, Jillson said tropical storm warnings remain in effect for the entire Bay area, including Pasco, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota and Pinellas counties. A warning means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 36 hours.
Isaac was 80 miles southeast of Key West when the National Hurricane Center released its 11 a.m. advisory. The storm is anticipated to reach hurricane strength later today. It should continue to move through the Gulf of Mexico over the next few days gaining strength before it makes eventual landfall in the area between the Panhandle and Louisiana, according to the hurricane center’s latest 5-day forecast map.
In the Tampa Bay area, forecasters are anticipating a storm surge of up to 5 feet, heavy rains, gusty winds and the potential for isolated tornados and coastal and inland flooding. Conditions are expected to deteriorate tonight, Aug. 26, and remain stormy through Monday at least.
While the storm’s potential track has shifted west, Tampa Bay area emergency managers are still urging caution. Several Bay area school districts, including Hillsborough and Pinellas, have canceled classes for tomorrow and the Republican National Convention has essentially been put on hold until Tuesday.
“Those tropical force winds extend so far east of the center, we’re still going to feel some of the impact,” Jillson said.
Isaac’s maximum sustained winds were at 65 mph, according to the 11 a.m. advisory. The storm is moving west northwest at 18 mph.
Stay with Patch for updates as they become available.