CLEARWATER BEACH (FOX 13) - Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle as a powerful Category 4 storm Wednesday afternoon, strengthening right up to the moment it came ashore.
Even from the Panhandle, Michael was still sending wind and rain down the Florida peninsula. But the main concern for most of the Bay Area is coastal flooding.
During Wednesday's afternoon high tide, coastal areas may experience storm surge. Two to 6 feet of storm surge is predicted anywhere from Tampa Bay up to Citrus County. Manatee and Sarasota counties can see up to 2 feet of storm surge.
WEDNESDAY HIGH TIDE TIMES:
- Crystal River: 3:33 p.m.
- Bayport: 3:55 p.m.
- St. Petersburg: 4:06 p.m.
- Ballast Point: 4:09 p.m.
- Sarasota: 2:28 p.m.
In Crystal River, waters were starting to rise Wednesday morning in areas where residents were asked to evacuate. Residents living in Zone A were under a mandatory evacuation order earlier in the week.
The sheriff's office there shared photos of a parked car that had been carried off by floodwaters from the Fort Island Beach.
Further south, roads were closed in Tarpon Springs due to flooding, and several docks and roads in Clearwater saw flooding Tuesday. Storm surge and beach erosion remains a concern even as the storm moves away from Tampa Bay.
Two main areas of concern are the Panhandle -- where it’s expected to hit -- and also the Bay Area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The agency released a map predicting that four-fifths of Tampa Bay beaches are expected to be eroded, specifically the sand dunes. Those dunes are what protect the area from flooding. Probably 90 percent of significant erosion is anticipated.
In Tampa, Bayshore Boulevard north of Rome Avenue was closed due to flooding at high tide. The Tampa Police Department asked drivers to avoid the area.