The National Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the Tampa area just hours after the program for the first night of the Republican National Convention was scrapped amid preparations for Tropical Storm Isaac. Tropical storm conditions are now expected in the area as early as early Monday.
The warning was issued as Isaac emerged into the warm waters of the Florida Straits, which separate Cuba and the Florida Keys. Isaac, which currently packs maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before crossing the Keys on Sunday. The storm is expected to remain west of the Tampa area, over the Gulf, where additional intensification is expected.
At 11 p.m. Eastern, the center Isaac was located near the coast of Eastern Cuba but was remaining offshore, about 340 miles east-southeast of Key West, Fla. The storm was moving northwest, parallel to the coast, at 17 miles per hour.
The Keys and areas of South Florida are under a Hurricane Warning, while the Tampa area is under a Tropical Storm Warning, with Isaac expected to remain offshore. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions -- winds of 39-73 miles per hour are expected in the warning area in the next 36 hours.
Convention planners have already scrapped plans for Monday night's program, when the storm is expected to pass closest to the Tampa area.
The National Hurricane Center warns that the forecast remains uncertain with regard to track and intensity of Isaac at this time, but computer models indicate that an eventual landfall somewhere along the northern Gulf Coast from Louisiana east to the Florida panhandle is possible late Tuesday or Wednesday. The storm is currently forecast to become a strong category 2 storm, with winds over 100 miles per hour prior to landfall.