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Irma's Winds Create A Tampa Bay Phenomenon

Too much water is typically the problem when storms blow through Tampa Bay. But for a few brief hours Sunday, the bay's fortunes were reversed as Hurricane Irma's counterclockwise winds blew the water out.

Dusty Albritton had never seen such a sight. The Tampa resident brought her two children to Bayshore Boulevard to witness the phenomenon that exposed mud flats and sea grass beds.

“My dad told me about Hurricane Donna and the Caloosahatchee River down in Ft. Myers when it was like this," Albritton said. "Never believed him then, I believe him now."

The hurricane pushed about 3 to 4 feet of water out of the bay.

"It's cool," said eight-year-old Norah Wallace.

Tampa native China Walker had never seen the water behave so unusually during a storm.

"Normally, it’s jumping over the wall," Walker said with a laugh. "So, when we saw this, I was like, 'Oh my God,' the water it’s going to come back down, ferociously somewhere."

Police were concerned about the curious crowds and tried to keep them moving along Bayshore. But there are several photos on social media showing people walking out into the empty bay.

Walker headed south along the iconic Bayshore sidewalk hoping to get a better photograph of the shallows, "No one will believe this. Anybody from Tampa, you know, you’ve got to see it to believe it."

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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