(FOX News) Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told FoxNews.com just days before the start of the Republican National Convention that he's prepared to order an evacuation of the host city if Tropical Storm Isaac strengthens to hurricane force and looks like it could make a "direct hit."
"The safety of my residents and our guests and visitors is my number one concern," Buckhorn said.
Both Tampa and the Republican National Committee are taking precautions in case the storm threatens to rain on the GOP gala set to kick off Monday. For the time being, nobody really knows where the storm will hit or how strong it will be. The current forecast has Isaac strengthening into a hurricane Thursday night and heading toward South Florida, arriving around Monday.
The storm was still hundreds of miles from the tip of Florida on Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. Forecasters warned there was still a great deal of uncertainty with Isaac, and it could miss the state altogether.
"We don't know," Buckhorn told FoxNews.com. He said the city is monitoring the storm but noted they have a few days to figure out what to do, if anything.
Earlier in the day, Buckhorn had told CNN that "absolutely we're prepared to call it off." But he clarified to FoxNews.com that it's the Republican National Committee, not him, that makes the call on whether the convention goes forward as scheduled.
Buckhorn, for his part, can decide whether to order an evacuation.
"I'm always prepared to do so, and I'm obligated to do so if there is the likelihood of a direct hit," he said, adding that by that point the RNC would probably have already made a decision on whether to go forward.
For now, he said, "We are full throttle heading for the opening gavel." Buckhorn played down the possibility that "Hurricane" Isaac would wash out the GOP festivities.