Storm surge from Hurricane Irma is expected to hit the Tampa Bay area between Sunday night and early Monday morning, and some weather experts believe the impact could be intensified if they coincide with high tides Monday morning.
Storm surge, or the water pushed by the hurricane to shore, can pose the greatest danger during a hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center's website, and has the potential to cause extreme flooding when it coincides with normal high tide.
Paul Close, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Tampa Bay Office, said high tides Monday morning would add height to the storm surge.
"Timing at the worst is Monday morning," Close said. "Say there is a surge at four feet. (High tide) makes it worse. Now you're at 6 or more feet."
According to saltwatertides.com, high tides in the Tampa Bay area peak between 3:10 a.m. and 6:57 a.m. Monday, adding between 2.1 to 3.1 feet of height.
"The water level is going to be a fairly uniform increase over the bay area," meteorologist Richard Rude said. "Tampa Bay could start seeing some impacts late Sunday night, but we are looking for the greatest impact Monday morning."
But Fox 13 Chief Meteorologist Paul Dellegatto posted on Facebook that the timing of the storm surge might put the bay area in a better situation if the worst of the weather arrives before high tide.
"Regarding storm surge flooding," he wrote. "10' to 15' storm surge will occur to the south of the point where Irma makes landfall. This is not a worst case storm surge storm for Tampa Bay because of the angle it is approaching us. You will notice unusually low water levels in the bays today and tomorrow due to a northeast wind pushing the water out of our bays. The water will not rise until AFTER Irma passes and the winds shift to the northwest and west. A storm surge of 5' to 8' is possible in Tampa Bay. The worst of the weather will be Sunday night."