Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday morning that Florida is making preparations as Tropical Storm Isaac's predicted path continues to point toward the state, though it has shifted slightly to the west.
Where it could hit – and if – will become much clearer over the next 24 to 48 hours, a crucial period for the state and organizers of the Republican National Convention.
In response to the storm's latest track, Scott said the EOC will go to Level 2 Thursday and talks with RNC officials will increase.
"We're going to be prepared in the event it does hit our state," he said.
Scott said the decision on the RNC will be made by convention organizers. In terms of coordinating possible evacuations and placing emergency personnel for a storm, that's up to state and local governments – and that's his focus.
"The convention has the decision. They have their own constituents. They make their own decisions," Scott said. "State and local will make their own decisions based on our people, our stakeholders … The convention will makes its own decision."
Any possible impact in Tampa would be devastating to the convention, but right now, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said it's too early to be concerned.
"I'm not particularly worried right now about Isaac," the mayor told Fox 13. "I'm worried about putting on a great event."
Police chief Jane Castor echoed a similar thought.
"The one predictable element of a storm like this is its unpredictability," she said.
Even during an average summer thunderstorm in this area, major roads can flood.
When a tropical storm raked the Tampa Bay area in June, thousands of homes and businesses lost power, tornadoes spun off and streets and bridges were closed as the storm was blamed for seven deaths statewide.
On Thursday morning, all computer models shifted closer together and to the west -- with a track toward Florida and the Tampa Bay area. But city and state officials still caution: Anything can happen.
Officials are closely watching the storm and say they're ready to make any decisions, if needed, about evacuations or cancellations as 70,000 delegates, journalists and protesters descend on the city.
"Public safety will always trump politics," Buckhorn said. "And so my job, and our job, if we move into that mode, is to make sure we get people out of harm's way. I don't care whether they're anarchists or they're delegates."
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were first preparing for the storm – centered about 200 miles south-southeast of Puerto Rico. It was moving west at 13 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, according to MyFoxHurricane.com.
If it misses Florida, it will likely to head out further west into the Gulf.
Scott said if you need assistance with hurricane preparation, head to Floridadisaster.org.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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