Florida prepares for Isaac
Leonard Kaul loads plywood into his vehicle at a Home Depot on August 24, 2012 in Seminole, Fla. Area residents are preparing for Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expect to grow to a Category 1 hurricane. / Joe Raedle/Getty Images
(CBS/AP) Officials organized shelters and urged vacationers to leave the Florida Keys as Tropical Storm Isaac approached on Saturday, though preparations farther north focused on getting ready for the Republican National Convention.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, after forecasters expanded hurricane warnings and watches for parts of Florida.
Isaac was blamed for at least three deaths after dousing flood-prone Haiti and was expected to scrape eastern Cuba on Saturday. It was forecast to hit the Keys late Sunday or early Monday, and it then could bring stormy conditions to Florida's west coast before moving to the Panhandle.
Early Saturday morning the storm was about 40 miles north of Guantanamo, Cuba, moving northwest at 17 mph. Forecasters says the storm could build to a Category 1 hurricane on Sunday afternoon, and possibly a Category 2 as it heads over the warm waters of the Gulf.
A hurricane warning had been issued for the Keys, though it was still a sunny day in Tampa. Forecast models show Isaac won't hit Tampa head-on, but the storm will still likely lash the city with rain and strong winds just as the convention ramps up.
Delta Airlines and AirTran have both added extra departures from Key West International Airport to accommodate more people wishing to leave the area. But the airport will halt all commercial traffic at 7 p.m. Saturday and all day Sunday. Flights won't resume until tropical storm force winds subside.
Early Saturday Tampa airport reported few cancellations.
The governor said during a media briefing that delegates were being told on how to stay safe during a storm, and officials were ready for storm surge, bridge closures and other problems that could arise during the convention. He also said he was in close communication with local, state and federal agencies, as well as convention officials.
"We are a hospitality state. We know how to take care of people and we want to ensure their safety," Scott said Saturday.
Protests were also to start in full force on Sunday afternoon, and demonstrators have vowed that they will make their presence known rain or shine. Groups including Code Pink, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the AFL-CIO union and Planned Parenthood have already started arriving in Tampa, regardless of the forecast.
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