Why did water leave Tampa Bay during Hurricane Ian? What to know about reverse storm surge

9/29/2022 8:40:00 PM

Hurricane Ian's powerful winds appeared to draw water away from the Florida coastline, exposing the floor typically covered by about 12 feet of water.

Where did the bay waters go? It’s a phenomenon called reverse storm surge, according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Pastelok, who said it also occurred in the Tampa Bay area during 2017’s Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Ian's powerful winds appeared to draw water away from the Florida coastline, exposing the floor typically covered by about 12 feet of water.

saw an unusual phenomenon in the water – it had receded.were under states of emergency ahead of Ian’s expected shift in their directions.What you need to know:.2h ago / 9:44 AM UTC Flooded streets of Havana as Ian passes A woman stands on a flooded street in Havana, on Sept.

The storm’s powerful winds appeared to draw water away from the Florida coastline Wednesday, exposing sand and silt that's typically covered by about 12 feet of water in Tampa Bay.Despite warnings from officials to stay back, curious locals posted social media images showing them venturing onto Tampa Bay’s temporary new coastline.Here’s what to know The National Hurricane Center said Ian, which is heading toward Florida’s northeast with maximum sustained winds of about 65 miles per hour, is expected to further weaken Friday night and into Saturday, but “could be near hurricane strength” on Friday when it approaches South Carolina.LIVE UPDATES: Tropical Storm Ian still pounding Florida in '500-year flooding event' Where did the bay waters go? It’s a phenomenon called reverse storm surge, according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Pastelok, who said it also occurred in the Tampa Bay area during 2017’s Hurricane Irma.“(Irma) was a very powerful system that went up to the north and sucked the water out of Tampa, and when it passed by, the water came back in and they had some flooding,” Pastelok told USA TODAY.Authorities in Fort Myers, which was badly hit, said late Wednesday that parts of the city were under 3 to 4 feet of water.Here’s what to know about reverse storm surge: What is reverse storm surge? Storm surge happens as a tropical storm or hurricane pushes water toward the shore, triggering coastal flooding along bays and inlets.Share this - 2h ago / 9:02 AM UTC Time-lapse shows floodwaters surging down roads in Fort Myers Rhoda Kwan A time-lapse of footage captured by a webcam run by the Florida Department of Transportation showed floodwaters surging down the roads of Fort Myers on Wednesday.

With reverse storm surge, especially in larger storms like Ian, the opposite happens, explained Pastelok.Hurricane warnings that were in effect for parts of Florida’s east and west coasts were changed early Thursday to tropical storm warnings.“It can pull the water out because the wind flow is coming from land to ocean, and it pushes the water,” he said.“The power of the wind is incredible.Just now.” WHAT IS STORM SURGE: Dramatic water rescues after Hurricane Ian pummels through Florida Rescuers fight through deep water to save those trapped as Hurricane Ian blasts through Florida.Claire Hardwick, USA TODAY The result is bare ground in some places, particularly along the shoreline, according to Pastelok.Smith / AFP - Getty Images Share this - 3h ago / 8:24 AM UTC More than 2.

“It's the blowout effect of pushing it in.” The phenomenon can occur during any hurricane, whether it makes landfall along the eastern U.S.coast or in the Gulf, according to the National Weather Service office in the Tampa Bay area.WERE IAN FORECASTS WRONG?: What experts say about the 'cone of uncertainty' Why does it happen? Storm surge can happen near and to the right of where a storm makes landfall, but negative water levels can occur to the left of the landfall location, said National Weather Service Tampa Bay meteorologist Ernie Jillson.Around half of those without power are in the region serviced by Florida Power & Light Co.

Tampa Bay was on the left side of where Ian made landfall as its winds blew from the northeast, he said.“It depends on the shape of the waterway, and bays are more susceptible because they're like a bowl of water,” Jillson told USA TODAY.“They're protected by land on all sides except one, so that's why they're so susceptible to being emptied out.” How dramatic the phenomenon appears depends on the storm's intensity, according to Pastelok.Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday afternoon with sustained winds of 150 mph over Cayo Costa, Florida – just 7 mph shy of a Category 5 storm, the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.

RECOVERING FROM DISASTER: "When Ian's center got close to the coast, it slowed down, it didn't immediately go right," Pastelok said."It was kind of scraping the coast, which also contributed to this massive dramatic effect that took place up the coast in Tampa." How did it impact water levels in Tampa? Water levels in Tampa Bay had mostly returned to coastlines by Thursday, according to the weather service.“They're running about a half a foot below what they would normally be with the tides, and half a foot is pretty normal,” Jillson said.It wasn't just Tampa Bay either.

During the reverse storm surge, water levels diminished Wednesday in nearby St.Petersburg and East Bay, along with farther north in Cedar Key, to negative figures.“East Bay was minus 7.69 feet, St.Pete was minus 5.

50 feet and Cedar Key got down to minus 5.21,” Pastelok said.There were also reports from the Florida Panhandle of waters being pushed away from the city of St.Marks, located at the head of Apalachee Bay about 25 miles southeast of Tallahassee, according to the weather service office in the state’s capital.Contributing: The Associated Press.

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