The Washington Times - August 21, 2012, 04:27PM

When Republicans gather next week in Tampa for their national convention, Isaac — not  President Obama — threatens to be their No. 1 adversary.

A tropical depression brewing in the Atlantic Ocean could make landfall in Florida sometime early next week as Hurricane Isaac, and some computer models show Tampa as a possible target.

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The weather cyclone was more than 500 miles east of Caribbean island Guadeloupe Tuesday afternoon with 35 mph sustained winds. But it was picking up strength and expected to be upgraded to a tropical storm later Tuesday or Wednesday. A tropical storm warning already has been posted for the Guadeloupe and the Caribbean Ocean’s Leeward Islands.

Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said it’s too early to tell if the storm will hit Florida. The storm’s 5-day forecast shows it perched above Cuba by Sunday morning. But where it goes from there — Florida, Texas, Mexico or elsewhere — it anyone’s guess at this point.

“Where at the point right now where there is no immediate threat to the United States,” Dennis Feltgen. “Having said that, what I’ve been telling the folks, particularly in the Florida media today, is that this is something that you should probably start paying attention to, at least thinking about it, and make sure you got your hurricane supplies.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Forecast System predicts several possible long-range routes for the pending storm, with some showing Florida as a target.

Tampa hasn’t received a direct hit from a hurricane since the first half of the 20th Century. But major storms routinely skirt the area, and the city’s downtown — the site of the convention — is located on water and is susceptible to storm surges.

And even if a hurricane doesn’t hit Tampa, simply the threat of one can disrupt and cancel flights to the city.

Republicans have some experience dealing with hurricanes during their conventions. At the 2008 RNC convention in St. Paul, Minn., officials canceled most events on the first day as Hurricane Gustav closed in on Louisiana.