Most of Florida's west coast is under a tropical storm watch, as Isaac gains strength and momentum tonight off the coast of Cuba.
The storm is anticipated to become a hurricane Sunday and reach the Tampa Bay area Monday. Although its precise location is uncertain, hurricane officials expect Isaac to travel west of Tampa.
Isaac will impact the Tampa Bay area, regardless of whether it touches land. Tropical force winds from Isaac extend outward for up to 205 miles, bringing rainfall measuring from 8 to 20 inches.
At 5 p.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service reported that Isaac was traveling at 21 mph with winds near 60 mph. The storm is expected to reach the Florida Keys on Sunday as a hurricane.
The Tropical Storm watch now in effects runs from Bonita Beach to the Suwannee River, according to the National Weather Service. It includes Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota.
Hurricane officials are warning that a storm surge and tide may cause flooding along coastal areas.
Isaac may arrive off the Tampa coast as the Republican National Convention gets under way Monday. The city is preparing for 50,000 visitors. RNC officials have pledged to hold the convention, even if a hurricane churns off the coast. Mitt Romney is expected to be tapped as the GOP nominee Monday night.