At 11 AM EST Friday, Tropical Storm ISAAC was centered 185 miles south southeast of Port Au Prince, Haiti. It was moving towards the west northwest at 14 mph. Winds have increased to 60 mph.

ISAAC’s winds have finally increased over the north central Caribbean. It may briefly reach hurricane strength before encountering the mountains of Haiti and eastern Cuba. After crossing Cuba, it will still be a Tropical Storm but beginning to strengthen over the Gulf Stream waters near the lower Florida Keys early Monday.

Having continued westward in the Caribbean longer than expected, its track in the Gulf of Mexico should be farther west of Tampa and more in the direction of the northern Gulf coast. It should be encountering upper level wind shear which would keep ISAAC from strengthening to more than a Category 1 storm. The uncertainty in the track after the first of the week means that it could make landfall anywhere between Panama City, FL and the mouth of the Mississippi River late Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

I’ll be watching the rainfall forecasts for Florida from ISAAC over the weekend. The farther west the storm goes into the Gulf of Mexico will reduce the danger of Debby-like floods here, but right now I will not depend on computer models predictions for 4 or 5 days from today to keep me from being concerned with the threat of heavy rains here next week. Stay Tuned!


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