All eyes were on the tropics last week as a depression formed into the named storm Isaac, which soon became tropical storm strength and headed into the Caribbean towards Hispaniola. Haiti took the first hit with heavy rains and flooding. Cuba was next in line with high surf and over-wash on the northern coast.
As Isaac continued unsubdued by land and on over the warm waters of the Florida Straights, intensification appeared likely but lack of vertical alignment of the core left the center ill-defined and passed by Key West with relatively little impact.
Meanwhile, Tampa prepared for the Republican Party national convention in the coming week but switched over to storm mode. The forecast path would bring Tropical Storm Isaac up the Gulf of Mexico coastline and risked dangerous consequences for the low-lying city and convention visitors.
On Anna Maria Island, residents prepared or ignored the threat. Some boarded up windows early and sandbagged lower levels in case of flooding from rain or rising sea-level.
Some prepared their boats’ moorings more securely and removed patio furniture and potential airborne missiles. Some people carried on as normal with fishing and beach activities. The building easterly breeze was refreshing and smoothed the beach waters.
By Sunday August 26 central pressure of the storm eased up, some drier air entrainment from the southwest lowered moisture content, and a high pressure to the north west and northeast resisted advancement north. Isaac looked less threatening to Florida and more-so in the direction of Louisiana as the computer models forecast a more westerly progression.
Overnight Sunday brought some squalls with about 1/2″ rain and 20-30 mph winds. By Monday morning’s high tide it looked like the skies were clearing and flooding would not be a problem from either rain or surge. The wind was already clocking from east to south and dropping. However Florida’s east coast was getting hammered by lines of severe thunderstorms as the large storm circulation spun off feeder bands.
As of midday Tropical Storm Isaac is still heading northwest 250 miles away from the central Gulf coast packing 65 mph winds. The next high tide is Tuesday morning but surge looks unlikely even though the storm has a large diameter. Intermittent gusty showers still remained and tropical moisture from the south is fueling heavy rains to the east.
After the slow moving Tropical Storm Debby surprised many with it’s eroding power, more people took extra precautions this time. However, Isaac moved faster and away from land, which reduced it’s destructive impact.