The weather forecast for Tampa, Fla. and vicinity: High winds, pounding rain, possible tornadoes and scattered convention delegates looking in vain for Lynyrd Skynyrd.
OK, that last part wasn't in the official forecast, but it should have been. As for the rest, the upshot is this: With 50,000 attendees to the Republican National Convention flooding into Tampa, the forecast is calling for actual flooding around the convention arena and tropical storm conditions through Monday.
The good news for convention-goers is that Tropical Storm Isaac is not expected to directly hit Tampa but veer to the west and strike land in the eastern Florida panhandle and southern Alabama, somewhere around Mobile. It should reach land by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, according to Tyler Fleming, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Tampa.
PHOTOS: Following Isaac's path
"You can expect that we will see some significant damage from this," Fleming said. "But it's not looking as bad as if it hit us head-on."
Fleming said Tampa would see winds of 20 mph to 30 mph Sunday night, increasing to gusts of around 40 mph on Monday — the day that the Republican convention was scheduled to begin. The Monday session has been canceled, and the four-day convention will be squeezed into three days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The forecast also calls for a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet in the Tampa Bay area, with rainfall of 3 to 5 inches from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning. That will mean flooding on coastal roads and houses, Fleming said, and will almost certainly mean flooding and road closures around the Tampa Bay Times Arena, where the convention is being held.
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There also was a threat of tornadoes in the Tampa area Sunday afternoon and evening.
Fleming compared the strength of the storm (but not the path) to Hurricane Debby, which had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit Tampa in June. It nevertheless caused widespread flooding, major power outages and several deaths.
By the time the convention begins in earnest Tuesday, Fleming said the storm should have largely subsided. He said there would still be a 50% chance of rain that day, but with likely breaks of sunshine.
So can the delegates' families head to the beach for a little fun? That may not be the best idea. "Everyone wanting to go to the beaches should be aware that there will be strong rip currents," Fleming said. "It won't be the safest conditions."
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And Lynryd Skynyrd? The band was scheduled to give an outdoor performance as part of the convention festivities Sunday night, but announced that it was canceling.
“We were excited to be participating in the Republican National Convention," lead singer Johnny Van Zant said in an emailed announcement. But, he said, "with the weather conditions unknown and for the safety of our fans and friends, it is best to cancel the show and not put anyone in harm's way."
Bottom line: If Mitt Romney wants “Free Bird” at his convention, he’ll have to sing it himself.