Isaac Aimed at Lower Keys as State of Emergency Issued for Florida
Around the State
With Florida now under a state of emergency, Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to reach the Florida Keys and the southern Florida peninsula Sunday or Sunday night, as the system grows into a hurricane.
Landfall is also currently forecast in the western Florida Panhandle, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Still, what the storm means for the Republican National Convention remains unknown.
On Saturday, Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order that declared Florida under a state of emergency.
“While Florida is facing another tropical storm, our State Emergency Response Team prepares for these types of weather events year round," Gov. Rick Scott stated Saturday in a release.
"The executive order is a normal step in these preparations, activating resources to assist local officials in response to an emergency. Florida’s emergency response officials are accustomed to protecting the 19 million residents and hundreds of thousands of visitors here every day. I am leading twice-daily briefings with local, state, federal partners as well as those involved with the Republican National Convention. Preparation is a key to success and all visitors can be assured they are safe in Florida.”
Scott’s order activates the Florida National Guard and waives the collection of tolls on the Florida Turnpike and other public roads as they are needed for the emergency.
The center of the storm should remain in the Gulf west of Tampa, with winds and rains reaching the west coast early next week.
However, the outlook may change depending upon what happens as the system crosses Cuba.
Isaac was somewhat disrupted as it crossed Haiti, according to the National Hurricane Center, causing the system to jog a little more westward.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, Isaac was near eastern Cuba, about 40 miles east of Guantanamo, with maximum winds of 60 miles per hour.
The storm was moving northwest at 17 mph.
Hurricane warnings are in place for the Florida Keys and the west coast of Florida, from Bonita Beach south to Ocean Reef and across Florida Bay.
No evacuation order has been called for the Lower Keys, but "Monroe County emergency management officials are urging visitors to leave the Keys if they have the means to do so safely," the Key West Keynoter reported. "For those that can’t, officials are directing them to stay inside during the storm."
Tropical storm warnings are now in place along Florida’s east coast, from Sebastian Inlet south and on the west coast.
Tropical storm watches extend north along the east coast from Sebastian Inlet north to Flagler Beach.
On the west coast, a watch is in place north of Bonita Beach to Tarpon Springs.
Gov. Rick Scott, who is holding two statewide conference calls a day as the storm approaches, traveled to the Emergency Operations Center in Broward County Saturday for updates on the storm.
“At this point, everyone is comfortable we’re going to have a great convention,” Gov. Rick Scott told the media at the Florida Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee on Friday. “The delegates are coming down, they’re going to have a great experience. They’re going to see a little bit of rain, a little bit of wind in Florida; they’re going to see how nice people are in Florida.”
Emergency supply lines, including prepacked meals and generators, have been set up in Jacksonville and Orlando, to be sent to areas that may be impacted.
Bryan Koon, director at Florida Division of Emergency Management, said convention delegates from across the nation will receive information in their welcome packets about tropical storm watches, storm warnings and what to do when encountering rip tides if they head into the surf while in town for the Republican National Convention.
Koon said a concern along the Big Bend may be the rains, as the region continues to dry out from Tropical Storm Debby and nearly six weeks of heavy rains.
Reach Jim Turner at email@example.com or at (772) 215-9889.