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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Storm Heads Toward Florida as Convention Nears


After struggling to handle two political storms this week, Republicans may face a real one at their convention in Tampa, Fla., next week as hurricane season arrives.

A tropical depression in the Caribbean is expected to gain strength and move toward Florida early next week, according to an advisory from the National Weather Service on Tuesday morning. It is too early to predict the storm's exact path, but convention organizers will no doubt be monitoring it in the coming days.

The Republican National Convention starts Monday and ends Thursday (Aug. 30), with thousands of delegates and journalists descending on Tampa from across the country. The Romney campaign hopes it will be an opportunity for voters to get to know the real Mitt Romney, but the party has faced unwanted diversions this week over comments by Representative Todd Akin of Missouri on abortion and reports that a House Republican went skinny-dipping i n the Sea of Galilee.

On Tuesday morning, the tropical depression was about 500 miles east of the island of Guadeloupe and was expected to strengthen to a tropical storm by the end of the day, the Weather Service said. It could become a hurricane by Thursday and reach Cuba by Sunday.

The storm â€" likely named Isaac â€" could move along several paths as it nears the United States, from the Gulf of Mexico to east of Florida, said Michael Brennan, a specialist at the National Hurricane Center.

“It's certainly too soon to get specific about where this system might be in five or six days,” he said.

But, Mr. Brennan added, “it's the peak of hurricane season â€" there's always the risk of impact anywhere in the hurricane-prone areas.”

“This is the time of the year when we have the most storms. Everybody needs to be prepared.”

Convention organizers should be. In May, state officials held a four-day hurric ane drill so they're ready in case a powerful storm moves in.