Sarasota County officials are urging coastal residents to be prepared for strong storm surge as Tropical Storm Isaac prepares to pass through the area.
"We were told by the Hurricane Center and the Weather Service that the storm surge associated with Isaac may be similar to [Tropical Storm] Debby with another one to three feet on top of that and some crashing waves," said Ed McCrane, chief of Sarasota County Emergency Management during a press conference Sunday afternoon at the .
Because of that storm surge, which rises the level of the sea and brings it closer to homes, McCrane "highly recommends" the evacuation of Manasota Key in south county. Evacuation is not required yet. That area which has many homes along a narrow stretch of land had already suffered great beach erosion during Tropical Storm Debby.
"The homes on Manasota Key would be very dangerous," he said. Those residents are being notified now along with residents on the bridgeless islands in that area.
Longboat Key residents on the north end of the island and mobile home residents are strongly recommended to evacuate due to the anticipated storm surge, said Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cummings.
"I think that we're going to see some flooding that will encourage people to go elsewhere to higher ground," Cummings said.
Sarasota County's Emergency Operations Center is operating on a 24/7 alert activation, continuously monitoring the storm and mobilizing resources, McCrane said. Heavier ran bans are expected to start to pass through Sarasota County around 9 p.m., and the winds will start to pick up, too, progressing into Monday, McCrane said.
McCrane cautioned that folks on the beach trying to look at what Isaac's doing could be caught in the surge's transition if wandering out to a sandbar or mudflat and be carried out to sea.
"Prior to the arrival of the storm, we could see a drop in water of two to three feet before the water comes back in," McCrane said. "… If they're out there and the water suddenly rushes back in, they may not be able to get back in time, and if conditions are bad our beach patrol may not be there."
Isolated tornados are also a possibility, McCrane warned.
During the storm, Sheriff Tom Knight recommends to not travel on the roads to avoid flooding, hazards, high winds and down trees and power lines. As power is expected to be lost, Knight also recommends having folks fully power their cell phones so they can call 911 in the event of an emergency.
If a medical need arises, emergency rooms will be open in both Sarasota and North Port, along with its three urgent care centers, said Mickey Watson, chief of public safety for the hospital. However, the urgent center hours could be reduced if the storm makes it impossible to run normally, he added.
Watson also encouraged anyone with a doctor's appointment at any medical office across the county to call ahead to make sure his or her doctor's office is open.
Courts and the Clerk of the Court is also closed Monday and the courts will provide information to those due in court Monday or jurors expected to appear in court with an updated schedule, Clerk of the Courts Karen Rushing said.
By 10 a.m. Monday, Isaac is expected to be 150 miles off shore of Sarasota County, McCrane said, but those are just simulated models.
Sarasota County Schools are also closed Monday, and updates for Tuesday's schedule will be sent out Monday evening, Superintendent Lori White said.
Tropical Storm Isaac Coverage