After a long and bruising Republican primary season, this year's Republican National Convention has been one of the most anticipated political events in recent memory, as 50,000 Republican delegates, journalists, and guests head to Tampa to officially nominate Mitt Romney as the party's nominee to challenge Barack Obama in November 2012. But, due to Hurricane Isaac, a tropical storm brewing southeast of Puerto Rico, the convention may not take place at all.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said today that cancelling the convention is very much an option if current weather projections materialize. "Absolutely we are prepared to call it off," said Buckhorn on CNN's Early Start. "Human safety and human life trumps politics. I think the RNC recognizes that. The organizers, certainly Gov. Romney, recognizes that."
"Whatever we do will be based on getting people out of harm's way. Politics will take second place and all of us recognize that."
With still six days before the storm is scheduled to reach land, much can change. However, there is certain to be wind, rain, and bad weather in Tampa. The storm may skim the east coast near Miami, or it could crash head-on into Tampa.
The worst possible scenario is that Isaac travels over the Caribbean Sea south of Haiti, and then crosses into the Gulf of Mexico, curves east, and hits Tampa straight on. This scenario would be Hurricane Katrina 2.0. It would be devastating for the city. One model suggst that the scenario is likely.
Most models, however, anticipate that the storm will travel east and just graze Miami. On Wednesday, the storm is closing in on the Lesser Antilles, and it is scheduled to become a full-blown hurricane on Thursday.
The GOP is no stranger to battling mother nature. Back in 2008, Hurricane Gustav threatened to derail the Convention as well.
Obviously, if the storm were to hit Tampa head on, it would throw a major wrench into the city's plans. Tampa has used the RNC as a vehicle to stimulate the economy and create jobs all year long. Republicans are well aware that the storm could be an issue, and some are already making contingency plans.
PolicyMic will be closely tracking the storm system and providing daily updates in advance of the RNC Convention. For real-time updates, bookmark and refresh this page.
2:00 PM: Rush Limbaugh claimed President Obama exaggerated forecasts of Hurricane Isaac to force the GOP to cancel the Republican National Convention. While Limbaugh said he is not “alleging conspiracy,” this video suggests otherwise:
1:30 PM: Issac officially became a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday when its winds reached 75 mph, just over the 74 mph qualification. It is expected to get stronger by the time it's predicted to hit the coast of southeast Louisiana. Only some low-lying regions have been ordered to evacuate, and shelters are open for those who chose to stay or missed the chance to evacuate.
12:15 PM: The National Hurricane Center says Isaac is moving northwest slowly, around 10 mph, and has maintained a central pressure of 976 mb since 8 AM. This slow movement will give strong tropical winds a longer period of exposure through the area, creating the potential for significant amount of structural damages and power outages. The Weather Channel has created a map outlining the threat of power outages resulting from Isaac’s tropical-storm force.
Aug. 28, 7:45 AM: With its massive size and ponderous movement, Isaac could become a punishing rain machine depending on its strength, speed and where it comes ashore along the Gulf Coast.
The focus has been on New Orleans as Isaac takes dead aim at the city seven years after Hurricane Katrina, but the impact will be felt well beyond the city limits. The storm's winds could be felt more than 200 miles from the storm's center.
The Gulf Coast region has been saturated thanks to a wet summer, and some officials have worried more rain could make it easy for trees and power lines to topple in the wet ground. Too much water also could flood crops, and wind could topple plants like corn and cotton.
Aug. 27, 6 PM: Hurricane Isaac Will Be the Storm That Costs Romney the Election, a great analysis from our Politics Expert in New Orleans, Ed Williams:
Much like everyone in the millennial generation will forever remember where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001, many of us will also recall where we were in August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck a merciless blow to the Gulf Coast, especially New Orleans. Now, seven years later Hurricane Isaac threatens the same region by following the same path on the same day.
The Republican Convention is underway in Tampa, Florida, and the GOP is set to show that their nominee is a personable, down-to-earth guy. But, Hurricane Isaac promises to throw more than a logistical wrench in their plans. CNN has already sent Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien to New Orleans to cover the storm instead of the GOP Convention, other major news outlets are sure to follow their lead.
This means that the producers at CNN and other cable news television stations are planning to cover the GOP Convention and Hurricane Isaac simultaneously. Rather the coverage is done using split screens with the Hurricane unfolding on one side, while Republicans chant and cheer on the other screen, or the news network decides to cover the GOP Convention full screen, while giving constant Hurricane updates on the marquee below, this will be a bad mix for the Romney campaign.
The American people have not forgotten the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, nor the horribly botched recovery mission led by President Bush’s Republican administration. The last image Republicans need during what should be their most celebrated moment is a constant reminder one of their worst moments of leadership. Even more, President Obama is going to capitalize on this catastrophe by travelling to the Gulf Coast just after the storm and demonstrating his leadership as compassionate leader in chief. Obama will be delivering a message from New Orleans or nearby on rebuilding economically distraught areas, while Republicans bash Obama’s leadership and economic record. Republicans who will have to risk going soft on Obama due to the hurricane, or risk making their already impersonal nominee look even more out of touch.
It is too late for Republicans to cancel a convention that is underway. However, if Republicans, especially Romney, fail to demonstrate compassion and leadership during this catastrophe, they will be giving this election away. It would be wise of Romney to come to New Orleans after the hurricane and accept his nomination by telecast from the Gulf Coast.
For Democrats, Hurricane Isaac is an unfortunate gift. While the Gulf Coast region prepares for yet another blow, the Democrats have an opportunity to get right what Republicans got wrong during Hurricane Katrina. For Republicans, the ghost of Bush’s presidency rears its ugly head yet again. Both parties need to be careful and sensitive to the reality that people’s lives are being rattled by this storm. America is watching this storm unfold, and for the rest of the week Hurricane Isaac is the political star.
Aug. 27, 4:30 PM: Storm Reprises Painful Katrina Memories in New Orleans, a strong story from PM Pundit Ingrid Norton:
Tropical Storm Isaac is heading toward the Gulf Coast of southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama on a course eerily similar to that taken by Katrina seven years ago this week. At present, Isaac is expected to be a Category Two hurricane or tropical cyclone when it slams into the coast late Tuesday: Heavy rains and winds and flooding are expected, but storms in the Gulf of Mexico, especially large ones like Isaac, are fickle: Isaac could move east or west and intensify or weaken. New Orleans’ leaders have given instructions for residents to prepare to shelter in place. Throughout the city, many have evacuated. Others have lined up at local stores to buy bottled water, are cooking food that could go rancid during a power outage, and have filled up their gas tanks and readied their valuables in case the storm is worse than expected.
More difficult are the emotions dredged up by the coming storm. I authored the article below six years ago, when the pain of Katrina was fresh, half New Orleans’ residents still displaced, and the physical damage from floodwaters that submerged the city constantly palpable. The future of the city was up in the air. Over the past seven years, however, the damage has gradually and decisively receded, aggressively erased in some cases by federal rebuilding projects. New Orleans has regained a three quarters of its residents and the metro area 90% (families were least likely to return: The city has 44% fewer children now than before Katrina). The X’s on houses from government checks for bodies were once ubiquitous but are now uncommon, sanded off by those who returned. Some Louisiana residents have permanently shifted to states like Georgia and Texas, which received the lion’s share of evacuees. Others have only come back in just the last year or two, abetted by programs like Road Home and the recovering economy. Many friends of mine here who were hit by Katrina are still working on repairs for their houses. Some have only recently emerged from the evacuation mindset and done things like hang pictures on the walls of their new apartments or organize CD collections. My friend Lisa’s children were 3 and 5 when Katrina struck. Though they had always slept separately before they evacuated to her cousin’s house, they clung together that night. Now 10 and 12, they still sleep in the same bed. Lisa wonders what things she does differently herself.
August 25, 2005, is still a black line in the consciousness of many in the New Orleans and the region at large, a great before and after; on a week like this, it has begun to throb. This article, reprinted from the first anniversary of Katrina, is a reminder of what is at stake.
Aug. 27, 2:15 PM: Emergency officials breathed a sigh of relief as the center of Tropical Storm Isaac moved pastTampa and the site of the Republican National Convention, but planners ramped up preparations in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as the storm appeared to gather strength and march toward Louisiana and Mississippi.
The National Weather Service said the New Orleans could be in the path of the storm, which is projected to become a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall on the Gulf Coast late Monday or early Tuesday.
Evacuations were underway in some coastal communities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Monday.
Aug. 27, 12: 45 PM: Romney on Isaac: Romney gave his thoughts on the storm off the Gulf Coast on Monday, saying that "Our thoughts are with the people that are in the storm's path and hope that they're spared any major destruction."
Romney briefly addressed reporters Monday morning as he and his wife, Ann, entered a high school auditorium near his New Hampshire summer home to rehearse his convention speech. Ann Romney is scheduled to address the convention on Tuesday night, while Romney will speak Thursday night.
The former Massachusetts governor struck an optimistic tone as he left the school, and suggested things were "terrific" in Tampa, where the weather was rain-free, partly sunny and breezy.
"I like my speech. I really like Ann's speech," Romney said, his wife at his side. "Our sons are already in Tampa and they say it's terrific there – a lot of great friends. And we're looking forward to a great convention."
Aug. 27, 12:05 PM: Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele responds to critics' concerns over the decision to hold the RNC in Tampa:
"First off, there is nothing to defend," Steele said, in an email response to The Huffington Post. "This was a good selection. The site selection committee and the 168 members of the RNC unanimously voted to come to Tampa. During the site selection process weather concerns were discussed in great detail and contingency plans were outlined and weighed and Tampa still outperformed the other cities."
Tampa was chosen as the site of the RNC convention in May 2010 -- when Steele still headed the committee -- after having failed in its previous two bids to be the host city.
"This is a great host city and the fact that some have complained and pointed fingers is disappointing to say the least," Steele added. "Remember, Tampa was selected in August of 2010. I can't speak to what this RNC has or hasn't done since my term ended long before weather related plans were finalized. If folks are now saying we shouldn't have come here then they need to take that up with the current chairman since he too was very supportive of coming to Tampa and advised me accordingly at the time."
"The second-guessers out there need to dry themselves off, take a chill pill and enjoy the hospitality of our hosts as we nominate the next President of the United States-Mitt Romney," wrote Steele.
Aug. 27, 11 AM: RNC Schedule Update, courtesy of PM Editor Mike Luciano:
As Tropical Storm Isaac barrels toward Tampa and the 2012 Republican National Convention, planners have scrambled to reshuffle the speaking schedule. Here's the revised, up-to-date schedule.
— 2 p.m.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will call the convention to order and start a "debt clock," before announcing a recess.
All other events postponed or canceled due to Tropical Storm Isaac.
— 2 p.m.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
Color Guard Knights of Columbus
Pledge of Allegiance by former Govs. Tim Babcock of Montana, and Tom Hogan of Florida
National Anthem sung by Philip Alongi
Invocation by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik
Opening procedural steps, appointment of convention committees
Welcoming remarks, and House and Senate candidates and RNC auxiliaries
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, D-Fla.
William Harris, convention chief executive officer
Al Austin, chairman of Tampa Bay host committee
Republican congressional candidates
State Del. Barbara Comstock, R-Va.
Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark.
Republican Senate candidates
Republican National Committee auxiliaries
Consideration of convention committee reports
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
Mike Duncan, chairman, Committee on Credentials
Zoraida Fonalledas, chairwoman, Committee on Permanent Organization
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, convention permanent chairman
Official Convention Photograph
Committee on Rules Chairman John Sununu
Committee on Resolutions Chairman Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va.
Committee on Resolutions Co-Chairman Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
Committee on Resolutions Co-Chairman Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Roll call for nomination of president of the United States
Roll call for nomination of vice president of the United States
— 6:40 p.m.
— 7 p.m.
Remarks by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio
Remarks by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
Video and remarks by Utah congressional candidate and Mayor Mia Love, R-Saratoga Spring.
Remarks by Janine Turner
Remarks by former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.
Remarks by Host, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
— 8 p.m.
Remarks by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., accompanied by Jack Gilchrist
Remarks by Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio
Remarks by Gov. Mary Fallin, R-Okla.
Remarks by Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., accompanied by Bev Gray
Remarks by Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis.
— 9 p.m.
Remarks by Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-Nev.
Remarks by Sher Valenzuela
Remarks by Republican Senate candidate Ted Cruz of Texas
Remarks by Artur Davis
Remarks by Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C.
— 10 p.m.
Remarks by Luce' Vela Fortuño
Remarks by Ann Romney
Remarks by Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.
Benediction by Sammy Rodriguez
— 7 p.m.
Call to order
Introduction of Colors by Amputee Veterans of America Support Team
Pledge of Allegiance by Brig. Gen. Patrick E. Rea, U.S. Army (Ret.)
National Anthem sung by Ayla Brown
Invocation by Ishwar Singh
Ron Paul video
Remarks by Senate Republican leader and Convention Temporary Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Remarks by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Remarks by Christopher Devlin-Young and Jeanine McDonnell
— 8 p.m.
Remarks by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Remarks by Attorney General Pam Bondi, R-Fla., Attorney General Sam Olens, R-Ga.
Remarks by Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La.
Remarks by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Remarks by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio
— 9 p.m.
Remarks by Gov. Luis Fortuño, R-Puerto Rico
Remarks by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn.
Bush 41, 43 film
Remarks by former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.
— 10 p.m.
Remarks by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Remarks by Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M.
Remarks by vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Benediction by Archbishop Demetrios
— 7 p.m.
Call to order
Introduction of Colors US Central Command Joint Forces Color Guard Team
Pledge of Allegiance by Dylan Nonaka
National Anthem sung by SEVEN
Invocation by Ken and Priscilla Hutchins
Remarks by Republican Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla.
Reagan Legacy Video
Remarks by former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and wife Callista Gingrich
Remarks by Craig Romney
— 8 p.m.
Remarks by former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla.
Remarks by Bob White, chairman of Romney for President campaign
Remarks by Grant Bennett
Remarks by Tom Stemberg
— 9 p.m.
Remarks by former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, R-Mass.
Remarks by Jane Edmonds, former Massachusetts secretary of workforce
Remarks by Olympians Michael Eruzione, Derek Parra and Kim Rhode
— 10 p.m.
Remarks by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Remarks by presidential nominee Mitt Romney
Benediction by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declares convention end
Aug. 27, 10 AM: 7 Years After Katrina, NOLA Braces For Impact, from PM's reporter on the ground in Florida, Katrina Rogers:
I woke up this morning looking forward to my typical Sunday morning ritual: This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, and Face the Nation followed by Meet the Press.
I knew there was activity in the Gulf and that Hurricane Isaac had been felt by Haiti. It was my understanding that Isaac would meander around Florida, maybe putting a dent in the Republican National Convention but not expected to be anything major.
I didn't get a chance to watch Meet the Press today, our local NBC affiliate switched to weather updates once it was realized that Isaac seemed to be headed more west than previously projected. I figured it'd be a tropical storm or maybe even a category 2 hurricane; these are not buzzwords for people of the Gulf. A couple of years ago, I slept through a tropical storm and I'm a light sleeper. Rain and lots of it, even flooding, is a part of NOLA summers. Then, I saw the tweet...
NOLA.com, the website version of New Orleans’s Times-Picayune live-tweeted the press conferences of NOLA Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. One of the site's tweets was how I discovered we were under a State of Emergency. I knew residents of Grand Isle were to be evacuated but it's a town in Jefferson Parish that is connected to the state by Highway 1 and is on a barrier island in the Gulf. That's to be expected, right?
What I wasn't expecting was for Greater New Orleans to be in danger of a direct hit, local schools to close until Thursday, grocery store parking lots full to capacity, overcrowded gas stations and lines to ATMs that stretch out into the street. I wasn't expecting friends from other parts of the country to send their well wishes or for other friends to make sure my tank was full and I had my evacuation plan together. It's amazing how quickly things change.
I know and am thankful that I am fortunate, I was able to fill my tank and I have several places to go in the event I need to evacuate. My prayers are with those who do not have those opportunities and options. It was just yesterday that I mentioned a hurricane at the end of the month is deadly, literally. Toward the end of the month, so many people are low on resources, especially those who survive on fixed incomes. I'm sure the world sees us as an adventurous lot, but many people don't evacuate because they lack resources; that's worth noting and keeping in mind.
I don't have a clue where this journey will lead. Hopefully, nowhere (right now, it looks like we'll just have a lot of rain and wind). Maybe, with my family in Shreveport. No matter where I go or with whom I travel, my heart will be with the people of this city I so terribly love. How cruel that a Hurricane is scheduled to hit New Orleans exactly -- exactly as in the same day, August 29 -- seven years after Hurricane Katrina.
This is merely a collection of thoughts that are likely as mumbled as they are in my brain. It is my hope that this is a short-lived adventure and next week I'll be laughing at myself for seeming overly dramatic. Either way, I'll keep you posted if I can and if there's something to say.
Aug. 27, 9:45 AM: Here's a quick report from the Associated Press:
Aug. 27, 9:15 AM: The federal government says oil and gas operators are evacuating offshore platforms and rigs that could wind up in Tropical Storm Isaac's path through the Gulf of Mexico, as reported by the Associated Press.
Isaac is expected to become a Category 2 hurricane before making landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
The bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says 39 production platforms and eight drilling rigs have been evacuated as of Sunday. That's about 6.5% of the 596 manned platforms and 10.5 percent of the 76 rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico.
Evacuation procedures include closing safety valves under the ocean floor to avoid pollution in case a rig or platform is damaged.
The bureau says operators estimate that about 24% of the current daily oil production and 8 percent of natural gas production has been cut off.
Aug. 27, 7:30 AM: Florida Keys OK, While Gulf Coast Braces For Impact: Tropical Storm Isaac barely stirred Florida Keys residents from their fabled nonchalance Sunday, while the Gulf Coast braced for the possibility that the sprawling storm will strengthen into a dangerous hurricane by the time it makes landfall there.
It was on course to strike land on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a powerful storm that crippled New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and became a symbol of government ineptitude. Forecasters expected Isaac to pass the Keys late Sunday before turning northwest and striking Wednesday as a Category 2 hurricane somewhere between New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle.
The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for a large swath of the northern Gulf Coast from east of Morgan City, La. - which includes the New Orleans area - to Destin, Fla. A Category 2 hurricane has sustained winds of between 96 and 110 mph.
Aug. 26, 11:15 PM: RNC Schedule Shake-up: Romney campaign strategist Russ Schriefer briefed reporters Sunday night about changes due to what could become Hurricane Isaac by the time the storm hits the Gulf Coast.
The convention will still officially start on Monday, August 27, with the call of the chair at 2 pm. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will gavel in, calling the convention to order and starting a Debt Clock that will measure the amount of debt accumulated by the United States between the start and end of the 4-day event on Thursday, August 30. He will declare the the convention in recess until Tuesday.
Most of Monday's scheduled speakers were reapportioned to slots on the remaining days with the majority moved to Tuesday, according to Mr. Schriefer. This was accomplished by eliminating parts of the program, increasing the amount of time available by starting earlier at 7 pm, and making some speeches shorter.
Aug. 26, 9:30 PM: Tropical Storm Isaac lashed south Florida with winds and heavy rain on Sunday after battering the Caribbean, threatening to interrupt most U.S. offshore oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and disrupting plans for the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Isaac is expected to strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane and hit the Gulf Coast somewhere between Florida and Louisiana at midweek - on or near the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina - the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory.
A hurricane warning was issued for the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, including New Orleans, which was devastated when Katrina struck the city on August 29, 2005, killing more than 1,800 people and causing billions of dollars of damage to the Gulf Coast.
Aug. 26, 9:22 PM: Hurricane Ron Paul Hits RNC 2012 Ahead of Hurricane Isaac: Ron Paul said at his "counter-convention" rally, in Tampa, the Republican establishment is "failing" the country.
The Texas congressman added that the party would eventually "drift" into his tent. "We'll get into the tent, believe me, because we'll become the tent eventually," Paul said. "Once they know we are the future they will know about us."
Paul made the remarks at an 8,000-people rally in Sun Dome stadium at the University of South Florida. The libertarian candidate will not be speaking at the Convention, as the Romney campaign asked to vet his potential speech in advance. Paul declined, adding that he is not ready to "fully endorse" Mitt Romney.
Aug. 26, 8:55 PM: Reuters has summed up best the Republicans' challenge regarding their upcoming National Convention and the approaching storm: "Help Romney make an aggressive, memorable argument to be president, while being careful to show sensitivity to those at risk from the storm."
And the risk is that the GOP has a big precedent when it comes to natural disasters and flawed responses: Katrina. It was a similar situation four years ago when Republicans had to delay the nomination of the McCain/Palin ticket -- in St. Paul, Minnesota -- because Hurricane Gustav hit the Louisiana coast as the convention was set begin.
Then, as now, the party "was still reeling from criticism" of President George W. Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.
Aug. 26, 8:38 PM: Will the Storm Spoil Mitt Romney's Party? As the WSJ reports, Mitt Romney enters "the most important week of his political career" stalked by a storm that threatens to spoil any momentum his campaign had gained with the selection of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee.
The dark clouds approaching Tampa are both literal and metaphorical, as the former governor of Massachusetts could see his scripted coronation literally collapse under mother nature (it has been reported that Isaac is keeping at home half of the RNC security personnel).
However, if Romey -- not Ryan -- is able (and capable) to go off script, Isaac could be providing an opportunity to turns things around and show the country that Romney is indeed the leader who is ready to face adversity and steer America to calmer waters.
Aug. 26, 8 PM: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a State of Emergency in Louisiana and hurricane warnings have been issued across the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle late Sunday afternoon, as Tropical Storm Isaac is close to becoming Hurricane Isaac 2012, with a path targeting the vulnerable U.S. Gulf Coast region.
Forecast models in the latest update now suggest a more westerly move for the storm, placing areas ravished by Hurricane Katrina -- New Orleans and the Mississippi coast -- directly in the line of fire.
Officials still expect Hurricane Isaac to strike the coast at Category 2 strength. Many coastal areas will be facing mandatory evacuations as the storm progresses and the forecast becomes clearer on Monday.
Aug. 26, 6:06 PM: Storm Likely to Shake Up RNC 2012 Security Plans: Detroit Free Press has reported, that the soon to be Hurricane Isaac could disrupt security plans for the RNC 2012, as half of the personnel lives around the area and would be forced to stay home while to storm passes.
Aug. 26, 6:06 PM: Storm Will Not Stop Protesters as Man with Machete Arrested at Pre-Convention Protest: Chron.com has just reportedthat a man has been arrested during protests near the RNC 2012 in Tampa, Fla.
Authorities say that on Sunday at about 2:15 p.m., officers spotted a man -- identified as 31-years-old Jason Wilson -- with a machete strapped to his leg, who refused to stop when he was told by police. Wilson resisted arrest and was subdued and taken to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
He faces charges of carrying a prohibited item in the event zone and resisting arrest.
Aug. 26, 5:39 PM: Isaac, 7 Years After Katrina: According to NOLA.com, soon to be Hurricane Isaac is an eerie reminder of the storm that decimated New Orleans seven years ago: Katrina. Gov. Bobby Jindal has called a state of emergency in Louisiana and suggested that people leave low-lying parts of coastal parishes. Meanwhile, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also declared a state of emergency "so that everybody in the city of New Orleans can begin to prepare." Though according to several models the storm is still a day-and-a-half away, Landrieu said they were not taking any chances.
Aug. 26, 4:45 PM: Why Isaac Won't Be As Bad As Katrina, from PolicyMic Pundit Paul Anderson:
As Tropical Storm Isaac (soon to be Hurricane Isaac) crosses over the Florida Keys, forecasters keep shifting the track to the west putting New Orleans in its cross hairs and wondering whether this storm will approach the potency of Hurricane Katrina. But, while there are some similarities, this storm will probably not cause the damage seen during Katrina. Here's why:
1. Size of the Storm: Both Isaac and Katrina were abnormally large storms in their scope (distance from the center to the furthest area of tropical storm winds). Larger storms can pack a deceptively large punch even if they don't reach major hurricane status, because Hurricane winds and tropical storm winds (and resulting tornadoes and heavy rain) are experienced over a wider area.
But for the same reason, large storms have a harder time strengthening. A variety of factors lead to the strengthening of tropical cyclones. One of the biggest factors is the presence of warm water. When storms approach the Caribbean, warm water is plentiful. As storms head north late in the Hurricane season (either up the Eastern Seaboard or into the Gulf of Mexico), they can still tap into warm water, but the layer of warm water is shallow. When the ocean churns, cold water is brought up from below. A larger storm is more likely to stir up the water ahead of its path before the center of circulation reaches that water. This makes strengthening slightly more difficult.
2. Interaction with relatively warm Gulf of Mexico water: The most obvious similarity between Katrina and Isaac is that they both enter the Gulf of Mexico at a period when the water is a relatively high temperature. Katrina made its way into the center of the gulf along the loop current (a ribbon of warm water that wraps from the Caribbean Sea, around Cuba, through the Florida Straights and up the East Coast - learn more) and "bombed" into a category 5 hurricane when it was able to tap into the balmy water of an eddy (see the LCE Vortex) that forms in the center of the gulf:
This year is a bit different. Unlike 2005, the loop current phenomenon hasn't really taken shape with the same intensity as 2005. In addition, while meteorologists continue to shift Isaac's path to the west, it will likely miss most of the loop current, instead staying closer to the colder waters near the shore (Isaac's probably path is plotted in red):
Still, Gulf Coast residents should prepare themselves for a dangerous weather event. Because Katrina briefly became a category 5 hurricane, many people forget that it actually weakened significantly before reaching shore at category 3. As we found out, a category 3 hurricane as large (in scope) as Katrina can cause catastrophic damage. Isaac seems unlikely to become a major hurricane (category 3 or higher), but if forecasters continue to slow down its approach and shift it west, it will likely reach category 2, with sustained winds of 105mph.
Aug. 26, 4:20 PM: The worst part of Tropical Storm Isaac is now expected to miss the Tampa area, where the Republican National Convention (RNC) is being held. However, the storm’s westward turn may actually be worse news for Republicans, since the storm now will have more time to strengthen in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The storm is projected to turn into a category 2 hurricane before it makes landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As a result, Isaac likely will suck up much of the free media time that would have otherwise been devoted to propping up Mitt Romney at the RNC.
Aug. 26, 9 AM: With Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down on Florida, the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee scrapped at least the first day of his national convention, mindful of the good politics of putting safety before, well, politics.
Top Romney aides and Republican National Committee officials scrambled late Saturday behind closed doors to shrink a four-day schedule of events into three for a convention that had been set to open with a sweeping indictment of President Barack Obama's economic stewardship. They said they hoped to begin laying out a revised schedule on Sunday, and it wasn't immediately clear what parts of the agenda would stay and what parts would go.
Nor was it clear whether there would be more delays. Romney's team was preparing for more schedule changes in case Isaac makes landfall elsewhere in Florida, requiring assistance from the brigades of police, national guard and emergency workers assigned to the convention.
Weather-related woes were always a risk when Republicans chose to hold their convention in Florida during hurricane season, a decision made well before Romney locked up the nomination.
Aug. 25, 6 PM: A hurricane warning is in effect for the Florida Keys and for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach south to Florida Bay.
In addition to this, at least three people were reported dead. A woman and a child died in the town of Souvenance, Sen. Francisco Delacruz told a local radio station. A 10-year-old girl died in Thomazeau when a wall fell on him, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of Haiti's Civil Protection Office.
Forecasters said Isaac could dump as much as eight to 12 inches and even up to 20 inches on Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as produce a storm surge of up to 3 feet.
Isaac was centered about 95 miles east-southeast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, early Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. It was moving northwest at 14 mph.. Tropical force winds extended nearly 200 miles from the storm's center.
Aug. 25, 3 PM: Forecasters expect the storm, which is packing heavy rain and 60-mph winds, to move over Cuba today and become a hurricane tomorrow.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency and officials urged vacationers to leave the Florida Keys, after forecasters expanded hurricane warnings and watches for parts of Florida, just as the Republican Party gathers for its national convention in Tampa.
Aug. 25, 9 AM: Tropical Storm Isaac dumped heavy rains on Haiti on Saturday, threatening floods and mudslides in a country where hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless more than two years after a devastating earthquake.
Lashing rains and high winds were reported along parts of Haiti's southern coast and in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, where more than 350,000 survivors of the 2010 earthquake are still living in fragile tent and tarpaulin camps.
Intermittent power outages affected the greater Port-au-Prince area in the early hours of Saturday as Isaac bore down on the impoverished Caribbean country.
At 5 a.m. ET, the U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for the Florida Keys, including the Dry Tortugas, the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach southward and Florida Bay.
Aug. 24 4:15 PM The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Centerpredicts the storm will pass near or over Haiti tonight and move over eastern and central Cuba on Saturday and Sunday.
Isaac could still reach hurricane strength before hitting Haiti tonight, the center reports. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph.
Whether or not it becomes a hurricane, it will dump heavy rain, possibly up to 20 inches, across Haiti. The storm is bringing heavy rain to Puerto Rico today. Rain is also likely in Jamaica.
After moving across Cuba over the weekend, forecasters say the storm should emerge into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday and potentially strengthen into a hurricane. "When it moves back over water, it has a chance to restrengthen," forecaster Eric Blake of the hurricane center says.
Water in the Gulf is in the warm mid- to upper 80s, hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen says. Warm waters contribute to a hurricane's development.
Aug. 24, 8:30 AM Here's everythign you ever want to know about hurricanes, courtesy of PolicyMic weather analyst Conor Cook:
With Tropical Storm Isaac planning its assault on the National Republican Convention in Tampa and Tropical Storm Joyce spinning out in the Atlantic close behind, it appears that the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season is heating up fast.
For East Coast surfers and weather junkies alike, this is the most exciting time of the year. For insurance companies and coastal homeowners, the uncertainty about what potential destruction lies ahead is nerve rattling to say the least. There is one thing East Coast residents can be sure about though: over the next month, names like Katrina, Andrew, Ike, and Irene will re-enter our vocabularies alongside the names of this year’s storms as we glue ourselves to TV sets to watch and wait for mother nature’s most awesome storms to descend.
Here is quick overview of everything you need to know about hurricanes and what you can expect from this hurricane season.
How Do Hurricanes Work?
Hurricanes initiate when warm air rises from the ocean. Convergent winds force the warm air into the atmosphere where it condenses into clouds and rain. Pushed by the trade winds, these disturbances coalesce to a spinning mass of thunderclouds, growing as warm moist air sweeps into the low pressure void.
Before these disturbed weather patterns are hurricanes, they are tropical depressions, which are defined at the first appearance of a low-pressure organized circulation at the center of a group of thunderstorms. Winds near the center of a tropical depression are constantly between 23 – 39 MPH. Once a tropical depression has intensified to the point where its maximum sustained winds are between 39-73 MPH, it becomes a tropical storm and is assigned a name. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when sustained wind speeds exceed 74 MPH.
Figure A. Tropical Cyclone and Hurricane Category Definitions
The central area of lowest pressure of a hurricane is known as the eye, a calm, cloud-free area from 4 – 40 miles across. Immediately surrounding the eye is the eye-wall, a cylindrical band containing the highest winds and most concentrated violence of the storm. Air at the sea surface is sucked towards the eye and thrust up the eyewall after forming rain bands on the trip inwards. The moist air cools as it rises, causing water to condense as a mist or ice while releasing large amounts of heat. This liberated heat causes air to rise even further, producing more condensation and releasing even more heat. In this manner, a hurricane drives itself by pulling in warm moist air at its base, extracting heat and water, and propelling the air outward near elevations of 50,000 feet.
Figure B. How Hurricanes Work
The most destructive part of a hurricane occurs on the right side of the counter-clockwise rotating storm. Here the forward motion of the hurricane adds speed to the counter-clockwise spinning winds. Simultaneously, low atmospheric pressure allows sea levels to bulge under the hurricane. This sea bulge in combination with strong currents and large waves become a life-threatening flood called a storm surge, which depending on the topography, can extend inland many miles, reaching up to 25 feet above mean sea level. When the storm surge hits in conjunction with a high tide, its height and potential for destruction is increased even further.
Figure C. How Storm Surges Work
When Do Hurricanes Occur?
NOW! We have entered the busiest part of the hurricane season. Officially, Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 – November 30, but most of the action occurs between August 20th and October 1st, with September 10 being the peak of the season. Based on the graph below from our friends at NOAA, it looks like the next three weeks would be the worst time of year to plan your trip to the Caribbean or to, say, TAMPA, FLORIDA.
Figure D. When Hurricanes Occur
How Much Do Hurricanes Cost?
Storm surge flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rain associated with hurricanes put a big dent in the U.S. economy every year. The median cost of an Atlantic hurricane that hits land in the United States is $1.8 billion. In terms of cost of life, an average of 114 people have died each year as a direct result of hurricanes over the last 10 years. That said, the cost of a single hurricane can be many times more costly. Hurricane Katrina caused an estimated $106 billion in damage in 2005 and caused at least 1,500 directly related fatalities, most of which were the result of storm surge inland flooding.
The deadliest hurricane in U.S. history was the Great Galvaston Hurricane of 1900, a Category 4 hurricane which hit Texas with an estimated storm surge of 16 feet (stop and think about that for a second). This storm claimed approximately 8,000 deaths and is noted as the worst natural disaster in our country's history.
Figure E. Costliest US Hurricanes in US History
Figure F. Deadliest Hurricane of the Last 50 Years
The 2012 Hurricane Outlook: What to Expect
This year’s hurricane season is expected to be busier than normal, due to currently warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic. To date, we have seen 10 tropical storms, 3 hurricanes, 0 hurricanes above category 3 in the Atlantic. There have been 24 hurricane associate fatalities so far in 2012 and $60 million in damage has occurred. 2012 is also the first year since record keeping began in1851 to have four named storms before July.
“We are increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season because storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures are now in place in the Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions are linked to the ongoing high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Also, strong early-season activity is generally indicative of a more active season.”
Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the 2012 hurricane season, NOAA’s hurricane prediction for number of storms is as follows:
Figure G. 2012 NOAA Hurricane Outlook
NOAA seasonal climate forecasters also announced that El Niño will likely develop in August or September. El Nino is a competing factor because it strengthens the vertical wind shear over the Atlantic, which suppresses storm development. El Nino, however, is not expected to have an impact until much later in the season.
Aug. 23, 4 p.m. Florida Governor Rick Scott said his fellow Republicans will decide whether to call off the party’s national convention in Tampa if Tropical Storm Isaac hits the area.
Convention organizers “make their own decisions,” Scott said at a news conference today in Tallahassee, the state capital. He added: “We must take every precaution.”
More than 50,000 people are expected to visit the Tampa Bay area as Republicans hold a four-day convention starting Aug. 27 to nominate Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate, said James Davis, a convention spokesman.
Forecasts showed the storm moving west of the state, Scott said in an afternoon news conference. There were no plans to cancel the convention, he said.
“There’s not an anticipation that there will be a cancellation,” Scott said. “Florida is ready. The state is more prepared than any state in the country for hurricanes.”
Aug. 23, 10 a.m. As forecasters predict Tropical Storm Isaac will become a hurricane by Thursday, the westward-moving system's 5-day forecast cone suggests a possibility it may head straight for the Sunshine State -- though it's too early to tell which coast may need to batten the hatches.
Isaac's center will move away from the Leeward Islands during the next few hours,the National Hurricane Center said at 11 p.m. Wednesday. The system is moving west at 20 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and tropical storm-force winds extending 140 miles from the center.
Though Isaac is expected to strengthen over the next 48 hours, experts predict it will lose a bit of intensity interacting with the mountainous parts of Cuba and Hispaniola. It will likely then strengthen again over the warm water between Cuba and Florida while approaching the United States.