ANNA MARIA ISLAND (FOX 13) - Hurricane Michael is still 275 miles away from Tampa Bay, but it’s already contributing to minor flooding in the Bay Area. Meanwhile, the distant storm is churning up waves along normally tranquil Gulf Coast beaches.
During Tuesday afternoon’s high tide, coastal streets from Clearwater to Sarasota were underwater. Most of the flooded streets were in low-lying areas that typically flood during a tropical event, such as Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Pete.
The water was being pushed inland by a combination of the passing hurricane and the higher-than-normal high tide. It’s likely to be more significant during the next few high tide periods as Hurricane Michael gets closer.
Already, though, high waves along the coast were drawing people to the beaches. Swimmers and surfers were taking advantage of large waves along Anna Maria Island in particular.
As of Tuesday evening, Michael was a Category 3 storm moving north through the Gulf of Mexico, pushing a lot of water in front of it. Forecasters have warned that storm surge would be one of the biggest dangers as Michael makes landfall along the Florida Panhandle as a strong Category 3 hurricane.
While the Tampa Bay area would likely only see a 2- to 4-foot storm surge Wednesday, as much as 12 feet of water could wash inland along the Panhandle – a potentially life-threatening situation, Gov. Rick Scott warned.
"You cannot hide from storm surge," Scott said. "This storm is deadly. Do not take a chance."