The Gulf Coast of Florida is already feeling impacts of Hurricane Michael with minor coastal flooding due to storm surge and high tide.
Flooding and some street closures have been reported in several Tampa Bay area cities and counties, including:
- Flooding at Casablanca Avenue and West Maritana Drive in St. Pete Beach
- Flooding at Coffee Pot Boulevard in St. Petersburg
- Flooding Dodecanese Boulevard in Tarpon Springs, which was closed due to tidal flooding
- Minor coastal flooding in Holiday around Green Key
- Minor flooding in Sarasota waterfront parks, like Bayfront Park
- Water on roads in neighborhoods along Sarasota Bay
Donnie Browning, who lives on Belleair Beach in Pinellas County, said the tide Tuesday afternoon was at least "a couple feet higher" than it was yesterday. He was amazed at how high the water was - inches from the top of the seawall washing over the dock - considering Hurricane Michael is hundreds of miles away.
"It's an awesome display of Mother Nature...she does what she wants to," Browning said.
At a press conference in Citrus County Tuesday afternoon, Governor Rick Scott said the storm is expected to intensify as it approaches Florida's panhandle.
"They're anticipating storm surge of up to 8 to 12 feet between Indian Pass and Gulf County and Cedar Key and Levy County,” he said. “That means the water is going to come in and come miles inshore and could easily rise above the roofs of houses. We expect to see up to 12 inches of rain in some areas of the Panhandle. That's going to mean you're gonna get flooding."
The governor has activated 2,500 Florida National Guard members and waived tolls in Northwest Florida.
Scott also warned that areas to the south will likely feel the effects of Hurricane Michael. He said Tampa Bay could experience up to six feet of storm surge and heavy winds.
With the combination of high tide and some possible storm surge from #Hurricane Michael, we’re seeing minor flooding in our waterfront parks: Bayfront Park (video), Ken Thompson & Eloise Werlin. Please be careful. Use caution & avoid water covered areas. pic.twitter.com/ZgmQQ8UcGD
— City of Sarasota (@CityofSarasota) October 9, 2018
Most of the Tampa Bay area remains under a Tropical Storm Watch and Storm Surge Watch. Emergency management officials in Pasco County are recommending voluntary evacuations for people living West of U.S 19, and in coastal zone levels A and B in Hernando County. (Click here for a county-by-county guide to evacuation zones.)