Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hurricane Gustav overjoys and annoys in bay area

Glancing blows from the far outer bands of Hurricane Gustav broke up Duane Franklin's truck in Clearwater on Sunday and stole power from Pinellas County households, but as it threatens the Texas and Louisiana coasts today, the storm should continue to delight surfers here.

Sunday's high winds, which gusted up to 35 mph, should slacken to half that by noon today, said Mike Cantin, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

But Gustav's residual swell will continue along the Pinellas coast today, with waves of 4 to 6 feet.

"Another good surf day for the holiday," Cantin said. "Not a good beach day."

Strong rip currents are likely, so Cantin advised against swimming and urged surfers to exercise caution.

Rob Diersing, 32, of St. Petersburg said he planned to be back on the beach at 6 a.m.

"It was pretty crazy today. We had very long lines offshore," Diersing said Sunday while toting a 6-foot yellow Ballistics board along Sunset Beach in Treasure Island.

Angel Famiglietti of Tampa agreed.

"I've seen better conditions, but this is definitely one of the best," said Famiglietti, 30.

Along the coastline, more than a hundred surfers bobbed up and down on their boards, ready to catch the next good wave.

Lenny Stamos, 61, owner of Lenny's Surf Shop on St. Pete Beach, said there was a "carnival atmosphere" Sunday at Upham and Sunset beaches — two favorite spots for local wave riders.

"By noon, anything that floated was in the water," Stamos said.

Surf Shop employee Tim Harmon, 30, said he fielded calls all day from surfers on the east coast who were headed across the state to capitalize on the waves being churned up in the Gulf of Mexico.

"It's been absolutely insane. All of our rental boards are out," he said.

On Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard on Sunday afternoon, a stiff breeze ruffled both the waves and the palm trees. The wind and the overcast sky kept the usual crowds away, but a few people braved the weather.

Partners Will Freshwater and Steve Cremen moved here a few months ago from Washington, D.C., so they brought their golden retriever, Rory, to check out the waves.

"This is all new to us," Freshwater said. "Every time there's erratic weather, we go check it out. The bay looks like the ocean."

Sunday's high winds did more than help push waves ashore. As of 4 p.m., Progress Energy had documented outages to 1,000 clients attributable to Gustav. That sounds like a lot, but Progress Energy spokeswoman Sarah Varga said a bad lightning storm can cause more trouble.

"We're very lucky," Varga said. "There has just been a smattering of short outages."

Though it was more than 200 miles away, Gustav reached out and ruined the afternoon for Duane Franklin, who works anchoring mobile homes to secure them during hurricanes.

Franklin, 57, was going into the kitchen of his place at Hidden Oaks Apartments on Druid Road E in Clearwater just before 3 p.m. when he heard a crunch, then a crash.

The wind had whipped down an oak tree limb, which fell on his girlfriend's silver Kia Sportage and his white 2000 Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Franklin estimated the limb was thick as a man and about 12 to 14 feet long. He tried to pry the limb off, but couldn't do the job alone.

To add insult, a hive of bees that called the limb home stung Franklin twice. The sides of his truck were smeared with honey.

Hurricane Gustav overjoys and annoys in bay area 08/31/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 4:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Karen Bail, who helped Gibbs kids get to Broadway, retires


    ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.

    Retiring musical theatre teacher Karen Bail warms up seniors Jonathan O'Brien, left, as Juan Peron and Addam Setzer as Che Guevara before the dress rehearsal of Pinellas County Center for the Arts (PCCA) magnet program's production of "Evita" at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, FL,  April 24, 2017.  The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ran for three days in April at the school and was PCCA's last play of the year. CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

    Gov. Rick Scott, shown standing at right, announced earlier in May that Clearwater IT service company Vology will add 200 jobs over four years. At the podium is Vology CEO Barry Shevlin. Strong job growth is helping boost the state GDP. [MALENA CAROLLO | Times]
  3. Florida wrestling forefathers to be honored

    Human Interest

    TAMPA -- Nicole Alonso and Belinda Romano never had to worry about defending their fathers in a "my dad can beat up your dad" kind of argument.

    A building at the Boys Ranch in Live Oaks was once named in honor of Tampa wrestler Eddie Graham for his financial contributions to the residential care facility for troubled boys.
  4. Tampa's bid for fifth Super Bowl means secret and expensive promises to NFL


    TAMPA — Before Tampa is officially named the host of the 2021 Super Bowl, local organizers have 90 days to convince NFL owners the city can meet certain conditions.

    What are they? That's top secret.

  5. Meet Batman's 8-year-old sidekick, whose super power is vanquishing a brain tumor

    Human Interest

    First, he vanquished a brain tumor.

    Now, Ty Verbanas is preparing to help Batman take on a collection of evil villains.

    Zachary Hurst and TJ McDonnell, playing Alfred the butler and Batman,  welcome 8-year-old Ty Verbanas to the Florida Batcave.
 To inspire Ty as he faced brain surgey, a Florida nonprofit that delpoys super heroes promnised to train the boy as the Caped Crusader's sidekick.