The National Hurricane Center on Saturday morning issued a Tropical Storm Watch for Tampa, Fla., as a strengthened Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to pass close to the Tampa Bay area early next week before making landfall along the northern Gulf Coast.
More than 50,000 people are converging on Tampa for the Republican National Convention starting Monday. Vice President Joe Biden had planned to be in the area Monday to deliver a Democratic counter-message, but canceled the visit Friday night. The Obama-Biden campaign said the reason was "to ensure that all local law enforcement and emergency management resources can stay focused on ensuring the safety of people who might be impacted by the storm" as well as the tens of thousands attending convention activities.
The Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach northward to Tarpon Springs, a northern suburb of Tampa. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions -- sustained winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour -- are possible within the specified area within 48 hours. Areas south of Bonita Beach, Fla., on the state's west coast are under a Hurricane Warning -- which indicates are greater confidence and more imminent threat of those conditions occurring in that region.
As of 11 a.m. Eastern time, Isaac was located in the Windward Passage between Hispaniola and Cuba. It was approximately 40 miles east of Guantanamo, Cuba, moving toward the northwest at 17 miles per hour.
The storm currently has maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour. After Isaac cross Cuba, it is expected to intensify and become a hurricane on Sunday over the Florida Straits before crossing over the Florida Keys and emerging into the Gulf of Mexico.