The Tampa Bay area is now among the parts of Florida under a Tropical Storm Watch, as of 11am EDT:
But Tampa is increasingly unlikely to get a direct hit, especially after Isaac’s center wobbled west (not north, as I speculated) over the last few hours. As the NHC’s 11am discussion puts it: “THERE IS A SPREAD IN POTENTIAL LANDFALL LOCATIONS BETWEEN THE EASTERN FLORIDA PANHANDLE AND SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA…WHICH LOWERS CONFIDENCE IN THE FINAL LANDFALL POINT.” But none of the reliable computer models are calling for a landfall on Florida’s west coast.
For I believe the first time, the NHC is now calling for Isaac to reach Category 2 hurricane status over the Gulf. This despite the fact that Isaac’s central core, having initially held together fairly well over Haiti, has become a bit disorganized again:
ISAAC HAS BEEN SOMEWHAT DISRUPTED BY ITS PASSAGE ACROSS HAITI. THE LAST REPORT FROM AN AIR FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT SHOWED THAT THE CENTER PRESSURE HAD RISEN TO 998 MB…AND THAT THE STRONGEST FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS WERE 60-70 N MI FROM THE CENTER. THESE WINDS SUPPORT AN INITIAL INTENSITY OF 50 KT. THE CONVECTIVE PATTERN IS DISORGANIZED…WITH LARGE CONVECTIVE BANDS SOUTH OF HISPANIOLA AND LITTLE CONVECTION CURRENTLY NEAR THE CENTER. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT ISAAC IS AT THE EASTERN END OF A LARGE AND ELONGATED LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA…WHICH IS CREATING A LARGE AREA OF STRONG EASTERLY LOW-LEVEL WINDS WELL TO THE NORTHWEST OF THE CENTER.
But the NHC thinks conditions will be more favorable by the time Isaac exits Cuba, and then strengthening will begin.