Officials in Monroe County were closely monitoring Tropical Storm Isaac Thursday as the National Hurricane Center's track has the storm nearing the Florida Keys early Monday.
On Thursday, officials cancelled public schools for Monday, and Emergency Management Director Irene Toner anticipated declaring a local state of emergency on Friday. The Emergency Management Operations center will also be activated to a level 2 on Friday. This means minimum staffing.
Bill South, a meteorologist with the NHC in Key West, said they were keeping a close eye on the storm and any necessary action would be taken Friday when the storm's path becomes clearer.
"There's still a lot of uncertainty," South said. He added that his office would have a conference call later Thursday with the Monroe County Office of Emergency Management to discuss possible strategies should Isaac come their way.
The current track has the storm over the Keys and tropical storm force winds may begin to affect the Keys by Sunday evening, officials said. The worst weather was expected to affect the Keys early Monday, lasting into Tuesday.
The NHC forecast has Isaac nearing the Florida Keys as a tropical storm late Sunday or early Monday.
"We’re responsible for the entire state of Florida here and the convention is important, but Monroe county, that would be the first place in the state that would be impacted so we’re having a conversation with them," Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference Thursday. "And that takes longer to evacuate so we have to be prepared faster there."
County officials were considering whether to issue a visitor evacuation on Saturday, but no evacuation was anticipated for residents as of Thursday.
Toner said if the storm arrives as a Category 1, there would be no general evacuation order given. If the storm is Category 3 and above, the county would order the general evacuation.
Emergency shelters will open at 9 a.m. Sunday. Shelters open are at Key West High School, Stanley Switlik Elementary School in Marathon and Coral Shores High School. County offices, sheriff's offices and county courts will be closed on Monday.
Monroe County Sheriff spokeswoman Becky Herrin said her office is also monitoring the storm and would be sending out advisories whenever necessary.