Tampa Copes With Glancing Blow as Isaac Churns in Gulf

Steven Shepard
August 27, 2012

Tropical Storm Warnings remained in effect for the Tampa area early Monday, even though the center of Tropical Storm Isaac remained nearly 200 miles offshore over the Gulf of Mexico.

Although Isaac is expected to pass far to the southwest of Tampa, the National Weather Service is warning that the storm could produce locally heavy rainfall, gusty winds, isolated tornadoes and localized flooding on what was to be the first day of the Republican National Convention. A Tornado Watch was in effect for the area until 9 a.m. Monday, with the likelihood of it being extended during the day.

The National Weather Service office in Ruskin, Fla., warns that maximum winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour are possible Monday, with gusts to 40 miles per hour. Tropical storm-force winds -- between 39 and 73 miles per hour -- extend up to 240 miles from the center of Isaac.

As bands of rain and thunderstorms associated with Isaac move across the Florida peninsula, rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches are possible across the Tampa area, which could lead to isolated flooding in low-lying areas. As of 5 a.m. Eastern time, 1.26 inches of rain had fallen at Tampa International Airport. Additionally, as the storm passes, tides may run up to 3 feet above normal, leading to minor flooding in some areas.

As of 4 a.m. Eastern time, Isaac was located about 190 miles south-southwest of the mouth of Tampa Bay, moving toward the west-northwest. Maximum sustained winds were 65 miles per hour, below hurricane-strength, though the storm is expected to become a hurricane "in a day or so," according to the National Hurricane Center.

Isaac is expected to continue moving over the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Monday before approaching the northern Gulf Coast on Tuesday into early Wednesday. Hurricane Warnings are in effect for the Gulf Coast from east of Morgan City, La., to Destin, Fla., including flood-prone New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. Some low-lying parishes in Louisiana have begun mandatory evacuations.