Republicans braced for hurricane Isaac: Will it hit Tampa? (+video)
Tropical Storm Isaac could become a hurricane by Thursday. Republican National Convention planners have prepped for a hurricane to hit next week in Tampa.
Forecasters cast a wary eye Wednesday on Tropical Storm Isaac, which was moving west in the Atlantic Ocean and poses a potential threat to Florida during next week's Republican National Convention in Tampa.Skip to next paragraph
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As of Wednesday morning, a hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the south coast of the Dominican Republic, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Currently, Isaac is still a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds near 45 mph. But meteorologists say Isaac is likely to strengthen into a hurricane in the next 24-48 hours.
It's too early to say whether Isaac will make a beeline for Tampa, on Florida's west coast. But it's the type of weather that convention organizers knew was a possibility during the peak of hurricane season — and they have backup plans in place in a worst-case scenario.
It's been 90 years since a major hurricane made a direct hit on Tampa. The last to strike Florida's west coast was Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 packing 150 mph winds.
National Hurricane Center computer models predicted Isaac would become a hurricane over the next few days, meaning maximum winds must be at least 74 mph (120 kph). Some models had the storm striking Florida, including the Tampa Bay area, after moving across Cuba or the Bahamas as early as Sunday morning.