Odds of hurricane during Republican National Convention in Tampa: slim

Miami HeraldAugust 19, 2012 

The worst hurricane ever to hit Tampa pretty much drowned the site of the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled for the end of the month — at the very height of hurricane season.

But the odds of history repeating are slim, according to Jeff Masters, who did the calculations for his always-fascinating Weather Underground blog.

The storm in question was known as “Great Gale of 1848,” and it pushed 15 feet of water from Tampa Bay across what was then a military outpost called Fort Brooke. It’s now occupied by the Tampa Bay Convention Center in a low-lying area that would be evacuated in Category 1 storm.

But Masters noted that hurricanes rarely seem to hit Tampa. The last direct strike was in 1946, the last major storm in 1921. Large evacuations were ordered in 1985 for Hurricane Elena and 2004 for Charley, but the city avoided serious damage or flooding from both.

Looking at long-range forecasts for the tropics and Tampa’s history, Masters puts the odds of a storm forcing an evacuation that would disrupt the convention at 0.2 percent.

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