Tropical Storm Isaac is poised to bring heavy rain, winds up to 45 mph and possible flooding to parts of south and southwest Florida and the Gulf Coast. It could even swell to a Category 1 hurricane as it drives toward the U.S., a meteorologist said Friday.
Although predictions are still vague, the storm could delay air travel in the region, just as party faithful are flocking to Tampa for the Monday start of the Republican National Convention.
But Isaac will "make for a rather blustery convention," said senior meteorologist James Aman of Earth Networks, which operates the popular WeatherBug forecasting system, on Friday.
PHOTOS: Following Isaac's path
"The main threat will be heavy rain...we expect significant rainfall," in south and southwest Florida, as well as parts of Alabama and Mississippi when the storm system makes landfall early next week, Aman said. "The southeast U.S. could see substantial rainfall from this storm."
The looming weather conditions -- as soggy and destructive as they may be to Gulf Coast residents and those living in and around the Florida Panhandle -- appears to be falling short of some of the worst-case scenario fears that had been bandied about in recent days.
There had even been talk this week of contingency plans in case the convention needed to be canceled or postponed. But that seems increasingly unlikely as long as Isaac moves along a northwest track.
Residents in the southeast are encouraged to prepare for a heavy-duty storm, and keep close tabs on weather reports in case Isaac takes a wicked turn.
Still, many Florida emergency experts were breathing a cautious sigh of relief on Friday.
"This is all basically pretty good news," Steve Simpson, a Manatee County emergency management officer, told the Bradenton Herald.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic, however, are not so lucky.
Isaac was expected to dump up to eight inches of rain on the island of Hispaniola that is shared by those two countries, according to the Associated Press. "That kind of rain is going to cause some life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the Hurricane Center in Miami, was quoted as saying.
It was just the latest cruel blow for Haiti, where about 400,000 people still live in government settlement camps comprised of shacks and tarps in the wake of a devastating 2010 earthquake.
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