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Hurricane Ian drains water across Tampa Bay area

Published on: 09/28/2022


With Hurricane Ian making landfall south of Tampa Bay, the eerie imagery – reminiscent of those from Hurricane Irma in 2017 – of an empty Hillsborough Bay and other local waterways are back.

Strong winds from the storm – even though its eye is about 200 miles away from Tampa Bay as of 9 a.m. – are pushing water out of the bays and bayous, including Hillsborough Bay along Bayshore Boulevard and the Intracoastal areas in Pinellas County.

The same was seen down in Venice before 10 a.m., closer to where Ian is expected to make landfall.

Over in Hudson Beach, the water receded, leaving behind sand and buoys. 

And over at Manatee River, Bradenton police shared images showing the same.

"This is the Manatee river in Ellenton. Here, there's usually 2-3 feet of water, but the water is being sucked out right now. #HurricaneIan," they wrote.

Water will rush back in as though after Ian passes.

"Do not walk out into receding water in Tampa Bay or Charlotte Harbor - the water WILL return through storm surge and poses a life-threatening risk," FEMA tweeted.

If Tampa Bay was on the receiving end of the eastern side of the storm, it would've been a different story for its waterways. The right front quadrant, from essentially 1 o'clock to 3 o'clock on our imaginary clock, has the strongest winds and worst storm surge.

If Ian followed its previously projected path – which could've led to a direct hit to Tampa Bay or following a parallel track west of the region – it could have been devastating, given that Florida's Gulf Coast is susceptible to a hurricane's storm surge.

During Irma, the 115 mph winds out of the northeast were offshore wind and actually forced water out of Tampa Bay. FOX 13 video from the time shows exposed sea walls and Tampa residents walking on what hours before was underwater by feet.

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