Tropical Storm Isaac has strengthened as it makes its way towards the southern coast of Hispaniola, the National Hurricane Center announced on Friday.
Located between 165 miles and 185 miles from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Isaac reached maximum sustained winds of 60 mph on Friday. A storm must reach maximum sustained winds of 74 mph before being considered a hurricane.
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The Miami-based center issued a hurricane watch for Haiti and maintained a tropical storm warning for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, parts of Cuba and the Bahamas. A tropical storm watch is also in effect in parts of Cuba, Andros Island and Jamaica, the center stated.
The storm is expected to drop between 8 to 12 inches of rainfall, with maximum rainfall reaching 20 inches, over Hispaniola. This could be especially dangerous for Haiti, where thousands still live in tents or makeshift homes.
Isaac, which is currently traveling west-northwest at 14 mph, is expected to move near or over eastern and central Cuba over the weekend. The center added that watches would likely be required in parts of the Florida Keys and portions of Southern Florida.
Reuters reports that authorities in Tampa have not ruled out postponing or relocating the Republican National Convention if Isaac makes landfall there.
Federal Emergency Management Agency director Craig Fugate, however, was not overly concerned about the convention, Reuters reported. Fugate told CNN, "People are spending a lot of time talking about that. I wish they'd be talking about making sure people in the Keys are getting ready and that people in southwest Florida are getting ready."
It is still early to know where Isaac will ultimately hit in the U.S., although it is expected to re-strengthen as it gets closer.
According to Reuters, the center stated that it was "important not to focus on the exact track because of forecast uncertainties and the fact that Isaac has a large area of tropical storm force winds."
The National Hurricane Center expects to make its next advisory on Tropical Storm Isaac at 2 p.m. EST.
5-Day Forecas- Force Wind Possibilities