Emergency management officials at the University of Miami said Friday morning that it was still unclear what impact Tropical Storm Isaac, currently moving across the Eastern Caribbean, might have on the campus and the surrounding Miami area.
There are currently no tropical watches or warnings in effect for South Florida, although that could change as early as today. Tropical storm conditions are possible throughout South Florida as early as Sunday afternoon but more likely Sunday night, and such conditions could result in downed power lines and tree branches, and weak trees uprooted. Rainfall in the amount of 3-6 inches is expected throughout South Florida on Sunday and Monday. On both those days, there may be an increased risk of tornadoes.
The probabilities of tropical storm-force winds in South Florida in the next five are 33 percent in Miami; 24 percent in West Palm Beach; 39 percent in Naples; and 41 percent in Key West.
On the University of Miami campuses, facilities and physical plant personnel will continue to put in place protections for tropical storm conditions. Construction crews today will finalize the cleanup and securing of construction sites. All generator and fuel tanks have been topped off.
To the south, Monroe County officials have ordered public schools to close on Monday. In Miami-Dade County, there are plans to activate an emergency operations center on Sunday morning if weather conditions worsen.
As of Friday morning, Isaac's location was 355 miles southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, or 940 miles southeast of Miami. Its maximum sustained wind speed was 40 miles per hour, with a forward speed of 15 m.p.h.
Although Isaac remains poorly organized as a storm, there is still time for it to strengthen somewhat today before being disrupted by passing over land masses. Any such passage over land in Haiti tonight and Cuba tomorrow will likely weaken the storm, and there is a 30 percent chance that Isaac could weaken to a depression. If Isaac remains intact, warm water in the Florida Straits will allow for some re-strengthening once it emerges from Cuba. There is a 25 percent chance that Isaac could become a hurricane before reaching the U.S. Gulf Coast and a 40 percent chance that it will remain a tropical storm.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center takes Isaac on a Northwest course across southern Haiti tonight and then across eastern and central Cuba on Saturday. Isaac is then forecast to emerge into the Florida Straits early Sunday morning and move over or near the Lower Florida Keys late Sunday night.
Many of you are new to South Florida and may have never experienced a hurricane or a tropical storm. Whether new to such tempests or not, we are entering the peak of hurricane season, and if you have not yet done so now is the perfect time to make sure you are prepared. The UM Emergency Preparedness website has links on how to get a kit and make a personal or family plan. Additionally, please see the Hurricane Survival Guide, which you might find helpful.
We will post an updated advisory as soon as there is additional information to report.
Detailed information on this system can be found at www.nhc.noaa.gov (Mobile: www.nhc.noaa.mobile). Locally oriented products and services can also be found at weather.gov/miami. University Emergency Preparedness information can be found at www.miami.edu/prepare.