Isaac on Path for Fla. Panhandle
Gulf Coast and Pensacola brace for potential impact.
Tropical Storm Isaac could develop into a hurricane after it passes Hispaniola and Cuba this weekend. It's forecast track is still uncertain, but for now, forecasters predict its path will lead to Florida's panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm's real test is whether it can sustain organization after exiting Haiti, which has hilly terrain that often shreds tropical storms.
"The forecast may need some adjustment after it is seen what structure Isaac has after crossing Hispaniola," wrote a National Hurricane Center forecaster.
If the storm makes impact on the Gulf Coast, many models predict it will then stall out over the Southeast dropping large amounts of rain. That could provide impacts in South Carolina, but the forecast is just too far off to be certain.
Headed into an evening impact, Isaac is showing increasing strength and it may be a weak hurricane when it actually reaches Haiti, forecasters predict. It currently has wind speeds of 60 mph. Storms with speeds of 74 mph are considered Category 1 hurricanes.
Over the next 72 hours, the storm should move to the northwest. Once in the Gulf of Mexico, it will have time to reorganize and strengthen into a hurricane, forecasters predict.
Though the path seems to be trending west, interests along Florida's Gulf Coast should pay attention, since the storm could shift. And even if it stays on course, it's a large weather system that will dump rain for miles.
"It is important not to focus on the exact track due to the uncertainties in the forecast and the fact that Isaac has a large area of tropical-storm force winds associated with it," the Hurricane Center reported.
ELSEWHERE IN THE TROPICS
Tropical Storm Joyce has fizzled into a broad area of low pressure with wind speeds of just 35 mph. The storm's path shows it drifting to the east and posing no threats.
Another system just south of the Cape Verde Islands has a 30 percent chance of developing into a tropical system over the next 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center reports. If it develops, it will be the 11th storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season. The next named storm will be Kirk.