FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- South Florida is fully within Tropical Storm Isaias' forecast track as projections move it slightly more east.
Tropical Storm Isaias is forecast to approach the coast of Florida this weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center, with wind speeds possibly reaching as high as 70 miles per hour and some models predicting it could strengthen into a hurricane.
Still, there is much uncertainty regarding its strength and intensity even with the storm just two days away from Florida. Fluctuations in the forecast were expected in the hours and days ahead.
Isaias (ees-ah-EE-ahs) was about 50 miles southwest of Punta Cana on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic late Thursday morning, about to embark on a potentially storm-shredding journey over the mountains of Hispaniola, the island composed of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Depending on how intact Isaias remains after traversing that terrain, tropical storm watches could be issued for parts of Florida as soon as Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. EDT Thursday public advisory. A watch means tropical storm conditions are expected in a given area within the next 48 hours.
Isaias itself was still pretty disorganized. In satellite imagery, it had more of the classic buzzsaw shape inherent to cyclones than it did earlier in the week, but it was also still a bit of a large, drifting blob.
Contributing to the uncertainty was the storm's projected journey Thursday over the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola. Those peaks could rip the storm apart, rendering it disorganized and less powerful as it emerges in the Atlantic waters north of the island on its approach to the Bahamas.
Plus, strong winds on the storm's path closer to Florida could be a problem for the already disorganized storm.
"The intensity forecast remains challenging," the National Hurricane Center said in a forecast discussion on Thursday morning. "The structure of the storm is likely to be disrupted by its passage near or over Hispaniola today, and some weakening is likely."
After that, gradual strengthening was expected. But the track and timing were still subject to change. Many of the so-called spaghetti models were continuing to pull the track of the storm east and away from Florida.