SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

August 27, 2012

Despite Isaac's soaking, Keys residents laid back

(Continued)

"Just a summer day in Key West," Harris said.

That kind of ho-hum attitude extended farther up the coast. Edwin Reeder swung by a gas station in Miami Shores — not for fuel, but drinks and snacks.

"This isn't a storm," he said. "It's a rain storm."

With a laugh, Reeder said he has not stocked up aside from buying dog and cat food.

The forecast wasn't funny, however. Isaac was expected to draw significant strength from the warm, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and with more uncertainty than usual about the path, a hurricane watch was in effect from east of Morgan City, La., to Indian Pass, Fla.

The storm, which stretched more than 200 miles from its center, was expected to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane, meaning top sustained winds of 96 to 110 mph.

The Gulf Coast hasn't been hit by a hurricane since 2008, when Dolly, Ike and Gustav all struck the region.

Hurricane center forecasters are uncertain of the storm's path because two of their best computer models now track the storm on opposite sides of a broad cone. One model has Isaac going well west and the other well east. For the moment, the predicted track goes up the middle.

Florida Panhandle residents stocked up on water and gasoline, and at least one Pensacola store ran out of flashlight models and C and D batteries. Scott Reynolds, who lives near the water in Gulf Breeze, filled his car trunk with several cases of water, dozens of power bars and ramen noodles.

"Cigarettes — I'm stocking up on those, too," he said.

Forecasters stressed that the storm's exact location remained extremely uncertain — a fact not lost on Tony Varnado as he cut sheets of plywood to board up his family's beach home on Pensacola Beach. With the storm's projected path creeping farther to the west, the Mandeville, La., resident joked he might be boarding up the wrong house.

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