It was an unusual scene, sure to enrage public safety officials who had warned people of the danger. But the Instagrammers just couldn’t resist.
As Hurricane Ian neared Florida on Wednesday, Tampa Bay seemingly drained away. It was like a bathtub after somebody had pulled the plug.
Then, the water returned.
Hurricane Ian sucked away enough of the bay to drop water levels by over 5 feet.
In defiance of warnings, people took advantage of the phenomenon and shimmied down rocks near Bayshore Boulevard onto the sandy floor.
Mud squelched beneath their boots and bare feet as they waltzed about the emptied bay, posing for photos and FaceTiming friends.
Bay shore Blvd. in Tampa right now. pic.twitter.com/OtUSqnEvVq— Dougie 🇺🇸 (@dougie_doowop) September 28, 2022
On Thursday morning, water rushed back into the bay, climbing by nearly 4.5 feet, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The effect of the water being pulled from the bay is referred to as reverse storm surge. It’s something that was experienced during Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Reverse storm surge occurs when wind from a hurricane pulls water away from the coast.
As Hurricane Ian approached south of Tampa Bay on Wednesday, its winds were blowing counter-clockwise, creating pressure in the northeast, according to National Hurricane Center reports, pulling water out of the bay.
But those same forces can suddenly cease or reverse, driving the water back in.
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Tampa Bay Times Hurricane coverage
WHEN THE STORM HAS PASSED: Now what? Safety tips for returning home.
POST-STORM QUESTIONS: After Hurricane Ian, how to get help with fallen trees, food, damaged shelter.
WEATHER EFFECTS: Hurricane Ian was supposed to slam Tampa Bay head on. What happened?
WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.
IT’S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.