Thursday, April 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

In Irma vs. Dinosaur World, Plant City's T-Rex emerges unscathed

PLANT CITY — Hurricane Irma's 67 mph winds uprooted ancient trees and pulled down power lines, but that wasn't enough to drive Plant City's famed T-Rex to extinction.

The 40-foot-tall, fiberglass beast has towered over Interstate 4 since 1998, beckoning passersby to visit Dinosaur World—- an outdoor theme park home to 150 life-sized dinosaur sculptures.

The park's owners, Marlene and Joe Svensson, lost power about 8 p.m. Sunday at their home off Forbes Road in Plant City, and when there was finally enough daylight to begin assessing the storm's damage, they discovered a massive oak tree had fallen across Harvey Tew Road right in front of the park's main entrance gate.

By the time the tree was removed and the couple could enter it was about 11 a.m. and they had to move quickly if they wanted to reopen Tuesday.

They declined to allow a reporter inside, but the couple insisted every dinosaur remained intact and secured in their concrete and wire bases, though beneath a thick blanket of foliage and debris.

"All good news, they all survived. We're very happy," Marlene Svensson said.

"There's some flooding in some areas and at least one power line down, but we should be back open soon."

The park also had some broken fences but the dinosaurs visible from the road looked just as menacing as ever.

Originally from Sweden, the couple moved to Plant City about 20 years ago and quickly learned how much destruction even a weak hurricane could bring to their corner of eastern Hillsborough County.

The worst, Joe Svensson said, was in 2004, when hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne ripped through the state.

"That year we lost the long necks, the brachiosaurus — on the T-Rex the tail got clipped and the whole thing tipped over," he said.

The couple made the statues heavier and more secure, he said.

"But when a big tree falls over and breaks off your tail, there isn't much you can do," Marlene Svensson said.

When they heard Irma was headed their way, the Svenssons made sure to move all vending machines, trash cans and other loose items indoors. The park's 25 employees had Saturday, Sunday and Monday off to secure their own homes before the storm.

Now, the Svenssons' only worry is how long it will be before guests once again roam the park's lush walkways.

"There was nobody wanting to come to the park Thursday and Friday," Marlene Svensson said. "I guess they've all been busy."

Contact Anastasia Dawson at [email protected] [email protected]

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