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Pinellas: Updates from Tropical Storm Isaac

Update: 2:10 p.m.

Tornado warning cancelled

Weather officials say funnel clouds are still possible as showers move through.

Hillsborough County under tornado warning

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for southeastern Hillsborough County after radar indicated a tornado near Myakka Head. It was moving north at 35 mph shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Update: 1:40 p.m. Monday

Gov. Rick Scott still got his seven minutes in front of TV cameras on Monday, but it was at the Pinellas Emergency Operations Center, not the Republican National Convention, as had been planned.

Scott, who bowed out of the convention over the weekend, said he had canceled his plans through Tuesday in order to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac's westward movement in the Gulf, which could bring a full 24 hours of constant rainfall to Florida's Panhandle region.

"The problem is we already have that part of the state is saturated," he said, adding "we're worried about flooding, we're worried about tornadoes."

Scott said he had spoken with governors of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and was prepared to offer help. Utility companies are beginning to move employees to the Panhandle region, Scott said, but the state is not shifting resources to the area yet. "We haven't seen any need yet," he said.

Update: 12:58 p.m. Monday

Pinellas County school officials notified students' families by robocall that all district schools and offices would reopen Tuesday, and that students and staff should report at their usual times.

County warns residents, RNC visitors to stay off the beaches

Tropical Storm Isaac may not have dumped as much rain on the area as originally thought, but local authorities say residents — and the thousands of visitors here for the Republican National Convention — shouldn't be lulled into thinking the dangers are over.

Pinellas County authorities began warning people Monday morning to stay away from beaches, even though no major flooding or power outages were reported.

"We dodged a bullet with this one. It wasn't as bad as it could have been," said Dave Baker, a county spokesman. "The main things we're concerned about is those 6- to 8-foot waves, and the possibility of riptides."

Officials in Clearwater posted double red flags on the beach, which means swimmers are not allowed in the water.

Baker said officials were especially concerned about delegates and other RNC visitors who might be deceived if the weather clears and the sun comes out later today.

Even if that happens, he said, the surf can still be rough.

"They may be unfamiliar with the dangers," Baker said. "The rip tides you can't see a lot of times until it's too late. We just want people to stay out of the water for the next couple of days until things calm down."

Less than 300 people throughout the county reported losing power, although those outages likely were because of high winds and rain, Progress Energy spokeswoman Suzanne Grant said.

Power was expected to be restored to those customers by late Monday morning.

"In Pinellas County, we're looking at very limited impact at this point due to Isaac," Grant said.

John Woodrow Cox and Anna M. Phillips contributed to this report.

Pinellas: Updates from Tropical Storm Isaac 08/27/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 2:19pm]
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