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Isaac continues west to Louisiana as Tampa weathers tropical storm conditions

Tropical Storm Isaac continued west and away from Florida early Monday, but the storm's effects were felt throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Severe rainfall overnight made for dangerous road conditions and flooding. Strong winds were expected to continue throughout the day, and a tornado warning was issued in the region through 9 a.m.

Isaac, about 350 miles south of Tallahassee as of 5 a.m., was expected to dump up to 3 inches of rain over the Tampa Bay area, with storm totals of up to 15 inches possible in some areas. A tropical storm warning remained in effect in the area.

Flooding on the Courtney Campbell Causeway shut down the left lane of the westbound span of the bridge just after 5 a.m.

South Tampa floods closed down Dale Mabry Boulevard from Neptune to Estrella Streets and Church Avenue from Henderson to Estrella Streets. One lane on Dale Mabry was reopened just before 7 a.m.

Bayshore Boulevard, a major artery through the city, blocked off its southbound lanes from Swann Avenue to Delaware Avenue. The iconic road was shut down for several days last time Tampa was pounded by tropical storm conditions in late June.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge remained open, though transportation officials could shut it down if sustained winds reached 40 mph.

The City of Tampa's Emergency Operations Center continued to track the storm early Monday. No evacuations had been ordered but four shelters were open to city residents in need. Those include: Greco Middle School, Middleton High School, Shields Middle School and Smith Middle School. Shields and Smith are both pet friendly shelters.

Areas in Hillsborough and Pasco reported the most rainfall on Monday as of 7 a.m., with 2.45 inches in Plant City and 2.88 inches in Zephyrhills.

Tampa officials warned of significant delays downtown due to weather conditions and Republican National Convention-related road closures.

Although the convention canceled its activities for the day, the Leroy Selmon Expressway from 50th Street to Willow Avenue was still shut down early Monday and will remain closed until 5 a.m. Friday.

Tropical Isaac slowed its pace overnight, giving it the opportunity to intensify over warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Experts predict the storm could grow to a Category 2 hurricane, with winds of up to 110 mph, before making landfall in Louisiana.

Some models showed the storm making a jog to the east before hitting the U.S. — just like Hurricane Katrina did in 2005.

Gov. Rick Scott said he is returning to Tallahassee on Monday as he expects Isaac to dump an estimated 16 inches on the already-soaked Panhandle.

"Our risk right now is the Panhandle,'' he told Florida delegates at the group's breakfast meeting on Monday at Innisbrook Resort and Spa in Palm Harbor. "It is drenched already."

Scott told the delegates to "stay stay where you are" today as he expects tropical storm force winds, tornadoes and rain in Tampa. He warned, however, that while the expectation is that the storm will continue to move westward, it is "wobbling a lot."

The governor, who has been getting frequent briefings from emergency management officials while operating out of the an emergency operations center at the Republican National Convention, said Florida hasn't "had a lot of damage" from Isaac's soaking.

An estimated 100,000 homes and businesses were without power in South Florida, he said, and as wind speeds pick up he expects a three to four inch storm surge in Tampa late Monday and wind speeds of up to 50 mph.

Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386 or on Twitter @Marissa_Jae.

Isaac continues west to Louisiana as Tampa weathers tropical storm conditions 08/27/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 3:47pm]

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