Hurricane Isaac 2012: Latest Path Leads to Florida, Then Alabama, Mississippi as Category 2

Tropical Storm Isaac has strengthened Sunday morning and it is now expected to become Hurricane Isaac in the coming 24 to 36 hours as its power intensifies over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

(Photo: Reuters/NOAA/Handout)Tropical Storm Isaac is seen in this NOAA satellite image taken at 9:15 EST (14:15 GMT) August 25, 2012. Tropical Storm Isaac emerged over warm Caribbean waters on Saturday slightly weaker but ready to regroup after dumping torrential rains on Haiti, where thousands of people remain homeless more than two years after a devastating earthquake.

Isaac is scheduled to hit the Florida panhandle on Sunday evening, before moving on to smash into Mississippi and Alabama early to mid next week. On its current path it would hit somewhere between Biloxi and Destin, but experts have modified their earlier predictions that it would be a category 1 hurricane, and it is now thought it could become a category 2 with winds in excess of 100 mph.

As soon as Hurricane Isaac makes landfall next week it should immediate begin to weaken but is likely to cause havoc in the regions it hits until late next week as it loses strength.

In other news Isaac has also forced GOP officials to cancel the first day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. scheduled for Monday, when the party was to officially name Mitt Romney as the presidential nominee.

Although Isaac is not likely to directly hit Tampa, it is expected to lash the city with rain and strong winds Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Responding to the threat, convention officials have said they will convene the 40th GOP convention briefly on Monday, then immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, when the storm will have passed.

Fla. Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, declared a state of emergency in the state on Saturday. And hours later, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus issued a statement saying Monday's scheduled activities had been canceled due to expected "severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain."

On the first day of the convention, 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories were to gather together to nominate Romney. The nomination is now likely to take place on Tuesday.

"Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday August 27th and immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, August 28th, exact time to follow," Priebus said. "Our first priority is ensuring the safety of delegates, alternates, guests, members of the media attending the Republican National Convention, and citizens of the Tampa Bay area."