)
Advertisement
  1. Local Weather
  2. /
  3. Hurricane

Water returns to Tampa Bay after Ian-driven ‘reverse storm surge’

When Hurricane Ian hit southwest Florida, wind pulled water away from Tampa Bay. Now, it’s back.
Tampa Bay on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, after Hurricane Ian passed through.
Tampa Bay on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, after Hurricane Ian passed through. [ MATT COHEN | Times ]
Published Sep. 29|Updated Sep. 29

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.

Related: Tampa Bay water recedes ahead of Hurricane Ian. It’ll likely rush back.
A steady stream of people stopped along Bayshore Blvd. to see the effects of Hurricane Ian which produced a reverse storm surge, pulling water out of Hillsborough Bay on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 in Tampa.
A steady stream of people stopped along Bayshore Blvd. to see the effects of Hurricane Ian which produced a reverse storm surge, pulling water out of Hillsborough Bay on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

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.

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.

• • •

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.

SCHOOLS: Will schools reopen quickly after Hurricane Ian passes? It depends.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

IT’S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge