For the second time in 5 years and the third time in in the past 18 years, a devastating hurricane destined for the Tampa Bay area changed course at the last minute and did significant damage elsewhere. This one walloped the Sanibel-Ft. Myers Beach area directly with 150 mile plus winds and a massive tidal surge causing hundreds of billions in damage and lost live of people that may reach 100 or more. Eighteen (18) years ago, a similar hurricane name Charlie took the same path, but the massive size of the storm – covering over 560 miles long and an eye 40 miles wide will likely end up the most damaging in Florida history.
The huge storm remained a hurricane that took it past Orlando and up to the Daytona Beach area as a tropical storm where it eventually reformed again in the Atlantic and struck South Carolina as a Hurricane again.
Our prayers are out for everyone that has suffered from this hurricane, especially those in the Sanibel/Captiva Ft. Myers area. The Sanibel causeway was destroyed, leaving no way to get on the islands by vehicle. The entire area was under 10 feet of water and mostly destroyed.
Here in the Tampa Bay area, we were spared of any damage. The JLaca Museum was dismantled again for the second time in five years and moved to the upper floors to protect the thousand artifacts from getting destroyed by 8-12 feet surges that were predicted – if the hurricane had stayed on track. Instead, the opposite happened, with 5-6 feet reverse as the water was pulled out of the intercoastal. The Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater area has now gone 101 years without a direct hurricane hit and one must wonder how much longer that will last.
The one thing that is scary is these storms are now frequently hitting 150 miles per hour in wind speed, something virtually unthinkable 40 years ago. The damage from storms in the Cat 4 or Cat 5 is catastrophic. Ian was just two mph short of getting classified as at Cat 5 with winds at 155 mph.
The St. Pete Cancha was also spared of any damage – just one of the upper panels above the front wall came loose.