Thursday, April 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Hillsborough spared widespread damage from Hurricane Irma

TAMPA — After days of preparing for devastating winds and flooding, a surprisingly manageable Hurricane Irma left Hillsborough County officials feeling "blessed," "relieved" and grateful Monday.

The county did not escape unscathed. Falling trees destroyed about a dozen homes, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones said, but caused no fatalities. Wind gusts caused little structural damage but left more than 300,000 homes in the county without power as of 11 a.m. A storm surge proved nonexistent but rainfall could cause river flooding Monday afternoon.

On the whole, it was less than what agencies expected.

"It could have been much worse," County Administrator Mike Merrill said. Jones called it "very little damage."

The biggest remaining threat is river flooding. Between 6 and 9 inches of rain fell across the county, which could cause record high water levels in the Little Manatee and Alafia rivers, said Preston Cook, the county's director of emergency management.

"We need people to be aware that today these rivers are going to rise very rapidly, and they're going to stay up for a few days," Cook said.

In preparation, Fire-Rescue has water rescue teams active Monday and will for days afterwards, Jones said.

Agencies are still assessing how safe the roadways are, Merrill said, and until told otherwise residents should stay inside their homes.

He said the assessment process should wrap up mid-day Monday and then the county can begin looking at releasing people from shelters. Nearly 29,000 people are in the county's 45 shelters. He said he wants to get them home as soon as possible.

"We know that it's been a struggle for them," he said.

People who got there on a HART bus can take one home once the roads are clear and buses can get in position, HART Chief Executive Katharine Eagan said. She said those who took a Sunshine Line bus should make sure to check out with their shelter before boarding.

Releasing people from shelters will be the first step in determining when Hillsborough County Public schools can re-open, Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins said. He'll make a decision on whether they will open Tuesday on Monday night or early Tuesday morning and says he views open schools as a key sign that "life is getting back to normal."

Many residents who weathered the storm at home are dealing with power outages. About 40 percent of TECO customers are without power, Tampa Electric spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said. She said crews are in the field checking out the damage and repairing lines.

"We know that's key to getting life back to normal," she said.

No trash, recycling or yard waste will be collected Monday, Public Works Director John Lyons said. He expects a plan for yard waste to be announced Monday afternoon for those with fallen branches or trees on their property.

Contact Langston Taylor at [email protected] Follow @langstonitaylor

Comments
Forecast: Abundant sunshine, low humidity make for ideal weekend in Tampa Bay

Forecast: Abundant sunshine, low humidity make for ideal weekend in Tampa Bay

Folks around Tampa Bay won’t have many excuses to stay indoors this weekend. It’s going to be a bright weekend with sparse cloud cover, reasonably comfortable temperatures and plenty of sunshine, according to the National Weather Service...
Published: 04/26/18
Forecast: Clear skies, pleasant conditions take hold over Tampa Bay

Forecast: Clear skies, pleasant conditions take hold over Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — Now that a cold front — which spawned a weak tornado in Ruskin — has departed, it leaves behind pleasant conditions across Tampa Bay.Relatively cool temperatures, clearing skies and low humidity will take hold until Friday, according...
Published: 04/25/18
‘Freak gust’ gives Ruskin park residents a fright

‘Freak gust’ gives Ruskin park residents a fright

TAMPA — For a few moments late Monday night, Jeff Hinton’s new home in Ruskin’s Paradise Mobile Home and RV Park felt less like paradise and more like his native Iowa’s "Tornado Alley."In an instant, the rain that had come in waves through the day hi...
Published: 04/24/18
Forecast: After tornado causes damage in Ruskin, clear conditions ahead for Tampa Bay

Forecast: After tornado causes damage in Ruskin, clear conditions ahead for Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — Forecasters said rain could fall on Monday before conditions cleared, leaving drier air and less humidity behind.That rain moved through Ruskin with a vengeance Monday night, causing a tornado to touch down and producing a treacherou...
Published: 04/24/18
Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

A large, disturbed weather system could drop thunderstorms and scattered showers across Tampa Bay. This is the same system that has caused water spouts and tornadoes to touch down around the Fort Walton Beach area in the Florida panhandle.This storm...
Published: 04/23/18
Forecast: Scattered showers could dampen weekend plans across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Scattered showers could dampen weekend plans across Tampa Bay

Scattered showers and thunderstorms could pester Tampa Bay throughout the weekend, culminating in a peak chance of rain early next week.A small cold front will meander over the bay area by Friday afternoon but should have little affect on the area, t...
Published: 04/20/18
Forecast: Clear skies for Tampa Bay lead to a hot, humid and rainy weekend

Forecast: Clear skies for Tampa Bay lead to a hot, humid and rainy weekend

Expect warm weather, clear skies and a slight increase in humidity across Tampa Bay in the next few days, before an incoming cold front raises the chance for rain.Temperatures this morning are in the low 60s with a little bit of damp air. The dry air...
Published: 04/19/18
Forecast: Warm weather continues for Tampa Bay, but humidity and clouds are returning

Forecast: Warm weather continues for Tampa Bay, but humidity and clouds are returning

The temporary cool weather has come to an end as temperatures rise back up to the lower 80s by Wednesday afternoon. Morning commuters can expect temperatures in the upper 50s throughout most of Tampa Bay, according to the National Weather Service. Bu...
Published: 04/18/18
Dreaded ‘cone of uncertainty’ will shrink for the coming hurricane season

Dreaded ‘cone of uncertainty’ will shrink for the coming hurricane season

The National Hurricane Center plans to shrink the dreaded "cone of uncertainty" during the upcoming season based on an improving forecast record.The Miami-based center made the announcement Monday, along with a series of other changes intended to imp...
Published: 04/17/18
Forecast: Clear skies, abundant sunshine ahead for Tampa Bay

Forecast: Clear skies, abundant sunshine ahead for Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay will be warming up today and by the afternoon clear skies and sunshine promise ideal conditions without an abundance of humidity.But Tuesday morning started a little chilly with temperatures in upper 50s before sunrise. By afternoon, temper...
Published: 04/17/18