The uncertainty on where Tropical Storm Isaac will ultimately make landfall continues as the latest forecast track shifts the storm much further to the west.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) now says hurricane conditions are possible along the central Gulf Coast including coastal Mississippi as Isaac strengthens.
A hurricane watch is in effect from the Mouth of the Mississippi River eastward to Indian Pass, Fla., not including the New Orleans metropolitan area.
The watch covers the cities of Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula, Miss., Mobile, Ala. and Pensacoula, Fla.
A hurricane watch is typically issued 48 hours before the first occurrence of tropical storm-force wind conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
The NHC says a shortwave disturbance, which was originally forecast to recurve Isaac to the northeast over the eastern United States, will likely miss the storm altogether, allowing it to continue to track generally to the northwest, threatening the central Gulf Coast region.
As of early Sunday, Isaac was located 135 miles east southeast of Key West, Fla. with sustained winds of 65 mph. It is moving quickly west northwest at 20 mph.
The NHC says the center of Isaac is expected to move near or over the Florida Keys by Sunday evening as a strong tropical storm.
Thereafter, it is forecast to move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico, likely becoming the fourth hurricane of the season on Monday.
"Conditions appear favorable for steady intensification as the cyclone move across the Florida Straits and into the eastern Gulf of Mexico," NHC said.
"Waters along the forecast track are very warm and upper-level winds are forecast by the global models to become conducive for strengthening," NHC added.
Indications are Isaac could become a strong category two or major category three hurricane before making landfall Tuesday night and or early on Wednesday.
All Gulf Coast residents are urged to stay updated on the latest weather information as it becomes available concerning Isaac.
Meanwhile, a hurricane warning remains in effect for the Florida Keys, including the Dry Tortugas, and along the Florida West Coast from Bonita Beach southward, as well as Florida Bay. A hurricane watch continues for the Florida East Coast from Golden Beach southward and Andros Island in the Bahamas.
A tropical storm warning also remains in effect for the Florida East Coast from Sebastian Inlet to Ocean Reef as well as Lake Okeechobee, and from Bonita Beach to Indian Pass on Florida`s West Coast and panhandle, as well as Andros Island with a tropical storm watch in effect for the Florida East Coast from Sebastian Inlet to Flagler Beach and Florida`s West Coast from Tarpon Springs to Bonita Beach.
Additional tropical storm warnings continue for the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and central and eastern Cuba with a tropical storm watch in effect for Cuban provinces of Matanzas and Cienfuegos.
Heavy rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches are likely with maximum amounts of 12 inches possible across the Florida Keys and the southern peninsula of Florida along and east of the track of Isaac.
Also, isolated tornadoes are possible within the rain bands that move across the region.