Isaac heads for U.S. mainland, but effects are still felt here

Tropical Storm Isaac is off the coast of Florida now, but local weather forecasters say there still are effects being felt locally.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said in a 7 p.m. bulletin that heavy rains were expected in the central and south Pacific overnight and that in the north Pacific much of the rain would be confined to the mountains. The prediction was for from 10 to 20 millimeters, from about four-tenths of an inch to about eight-tenths of an inch.

The forecasters correctly called the bank of fog that settled on the Central Valley Sunday night. The prediction was for isolated showers with total rain of up to 15 millimeters.

The heaviest rain was predicted for the northern zone with a possible 80 millimeters, about three inches, through 7 p.m. today. Forecasters predicted about 20 millimeters on the Caribbean coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that Isaac was moving west northwest over the eastern gulf of Mexico with no change in strength. Some forecasters said they expected the storm to become a hurricane while over the gulf.

Early today the storm was 110 miles or 175 kilometers west of Key West, Florida and 455 miles or 730 kilometers southeast of the Mississippi River mouth.

The U.S. Republican national convention in Tampa, Florida, was scheduled to begin today but the opening day was put off until Tuesday due to the storm.

In Costa Rica TACA Airlines canceled its Miami flights due to the storm.

Isaac lashed Haiti Saturday with torrential downpours that flooded the already-battered capital, Port au Prince, with at least 30 centimeters of rain.

Early reports said three people were dead, as rescue workers scrambled to aid thousands of residents marooned in tent cities since a massive earthquake devastated the city nearly three years ago.

Republican convention officials say they hope the storm will stay far to the west, enabling them to open their national nominating convention Tuesday.

The convention will build to a climax later in the week when Republicans will formally nominate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate to face President Barack Obama. They will also nominate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as Romney’s vice presidential running mate. Ryan is scheduled to give his acceptance speech Wednesday.

Romney will have his moment in the spotlight on Thursday when an estimated 30 to 40 million people will be watching on national television.

The storm also has impacted protesters who have been gathering in downtown Tampa.

Anti-Romney protester John Penley said Sunday that turnout has been less than expected.

“I think part of what’s going on is that people want to see what’s going on with the weather. We expect the majority of people to get here today, and people are waiting to see because why come here and then just have to turn around and leave because of a hurricane or really, really strong winds are going to hit the city.”

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