Monday, June 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Tropical Storm Isaac track 'still a big if' for Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay area took a collective deep breath Friday as forecast models showed Tropical Storm Isaac veering west into the Gulf of Mexico.

But experts said any track showing what Isaac might do after it emerges from Cuba and spills into the Florida Straits remains little more than an educated guess. Forecasters on Friday night issued a Tropical Storm watch for a large part of South Florida, but Tampa Bay was not included — at least not yet.

If the storm stays on its projected path, experts said, it will miss directly hitting Tampa, where more than 50,000 visitors are gathering for the GOP convention.

"If," said National Hurricane Center meteorologist Rick Danielson. "That's still a big if."

Some localities chose to err on the side of caution: Pasco officials declared a state of emergency, St. Petersburg opened its Emergency Operations Center and Madeira Beach stocked up on sandbags and filled extra fire stations.

Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando and Manatee counties will wait and see.

"We're expecting some minor rain," said Preston Cook, director of Hillsborough County Emergency Management. "We're postured for that."

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center cautioned that even a glancing blow from the storm could result in a whole lot more. The storm is big, with tropical storm-like conditions extending more than 185 miles from its center. And it's liable to grow, Danielson said.

"The full range of impact is possible," he said. "Absolutely no one should discount the possibility that some sort of severe weather will occur."

Even if Isaac passes west of Tampa Bay, it could strafe the region with rags of vicious storm bands carrying heavy rain, high winds and tornadoes.

Isaac is an unusual storm. It's disorganized, it's sloppy and it's hard to predict.

The cone of uncertainty used in forecast models provides the wiggle room forecasters believe the storm might take. Anywhere inside that area is still fair game, Danielson said.

That includes Tampa.

The Republican National Convention has contingency plans for bad weather but is not discussing them or saying when it would have to decide whether to put them into effect.

"We continue to talk with Gov. (Rick) Scott's office and local authorities and the National Weather Service and monitor the situation," convention spokesman James Davis said Friday. "We're looking forward and planning on having a great event next week."

Pinellas County spokesman Tom Iovino said Friday that given Isaac's current trajectory, he is "cautiously optimistic" that the area will be spared from severe flooding.

Isaac was traveling about 15 miles an hour Friday night as it approached Haiti. If it stays at that speed, it would be out of Tampa Bay's hair far faster than Tropical Storm Debby, which trudged along much more slowly earlier this summer.

"If you've got a big, sloppy system like Debby that's not moving for two days you could get 15 inches of rain," he said. "With a fast-moving storm you're bound to see far less rain. Unless something strange were to happen."

Fed by dry air, Isaac has shown multiple centers and has been unable to develop — unusual for a tropical storm.

Late Friday, Isaac was just off the coast of Hispaniola. It looked likely to skirt the island, missing its tallest mountain peaks, before moving toward Cuba. Isaac was expected to travel up the spine of Cuba —a journey that could change the nature of the storm.

Land travel usually slows storms down. If Isaac slows too much before re-entering the gulf, it could crawl up Florida's shoreline slowly, growing bigger and stronger over warm water, increasing the danger of storm surge and flooding rains.

Forecasters urged vigilance.

But fishing guides and boat captains at O'Neill's Marina in St. Petersburg shrugged the storm off Friday afternoon.

None had tied down their boats. Few believe they'll have to.

Mike Gore, 41, said more than the storm itself, fishermen feared how its presence might scare away customers.

"Mother Nature is going to do what Mother Nature is going to do," said Capt. Lee Blick, 51. "Sure, watch what the forecast is, but take it with a grain of salt."

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804 or on Twitter @Marissa_Jae.

Comments
Forecast: High humidity, searing temperatures and little rain across Tampa Bay

Forecast: High humidity, searing temperatures and little rain across Tampa Bay

Dry air will keep rain chances down Tuesday, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your afternoon plans.While showers will be at a minimum, the searing heat won’t be as high humidity and mostly sunny skies will push the heat index at ar nea...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Summer officially doesn’t start for another three days, but that won’t stop the searing temperatures and stifling humidity from making for a hot and sticky week across Tampa Bay. Temperatures will climb well into the 90s — and feel...
Published: 06/18/18
Forecast: Plenty of sunshine for Father’s Day with small chances of isolated showers

Forecast: Plenty of sunshine for Father’s Day with small chances of isolated showers

As the week comes to a close, Tampa Bay can expect some pretty standard summer-like days with highs near the 90s and afternoon showers popping up around the bay.Friday morning, Tampa Bay will rise with a lot of sunshine. Some scattered showers may dr...
Published: 06/15/18
Strong winds from Tropical Storm Bud hit Mexico’s Los Cabos

Strong winds from Tropical Storm Bud hit Mexico’s Los Cabos

SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico — Tropical Storm Bud lashed the southern end of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, home to the popular beach resorts of Los Cabos, with heavy winds Thursday as locals and tourists braced for an expected landfall later in th...
Published: 06/14/18
Check out this waterspout that formed in waters off Egmont Key

Check out this waterspout that formed in waters off Egmont Key

ST. PETERSBURG — While the chance for an isolated shower or thunderstorm along the coast will remain just that this week, that doesn’t preclude the possibility a strong cell could form in the morning.That exact scenario occurred Thursday morning as T...
Published: 06/14/18
Forecast: Early taste of summer for Father’s Day across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Early taste of summer for Father’s Day across Tampa Bay

Summer officially starts one week from today, but the familiar summertime pattern is firmly intact across Tampa Bay.That means warm days, high humidity and a small chance for an isolated popup afternoon storm. In other words, a great opportunity to h...
Published: 06/14/18
Forecast: Hot days, scattered showers are still the rule across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Hot days, scattered showers are still the rule across Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay should continue seeing summer-like days through the rest of the week with sunny, partly cloudy skies and a chance for pop-up afternoon showers.A light westerly flow off the Gulf of Mexico will help push coastal breezes further inland, carry...
Published: 06/13/18
Forecast: Typical June week for Tampa Bay with hot afternoons, mostly sunny skies

Forecast: Typical June week for Tampa Bay with hot afternoons, mostly sunny skies

Monday should set up a pretty typical June week, with hot temperatures and a very low chance for brief scattered showers.Afternoon highs should be near 90 under mostly sunny skies and a small chance of pop up scattered showers that will dissipate qui...
Published: 06/11/18
Forecast: Sunny skies to make for ideal beach weekend across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Sunny skies to make for ideal beach weekend across Tampa Bay

There is a chance of rain throughout Friday, but the weekend should be perfect to make those beach plans.Similar to the past two days, showers could appear around the coast early Friday morning, but by the afternoon those storms should move inland, a...
Published: 06/08/18
Hurricane 2018: Pinellas County gears up for storm season

Hurricane 2018: Pinellas County gears up for storm season

LARGO — Improving the evacuation process was the biggest lesson learned in Hurricane Irma, Pinellas emergency officials said Thursday.Interim Emergency Management Director David Halstead said although the department got out evacuation information las...
Published: 06/07/18