Starting at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday, October 9, Gulfport began to experience some localized street flooding due to a Mother Nature trifecta of a new moon, exceptionally high tide and winds from Hurricane Michael, which was located offshore to the southwest of Tampa Bay, said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
“Winds out of the southwest were pushing water inland” from the Gulf of Mexico into Tampa Bay, he said. “We are monitoring the hurricane 24 hours a day.”
By 1:14 a.m. on Wednesday, the local tide was expected to be 2.3 feet above normal.
During high tides through at least Wednesday morning, residents and visitors can expect to see street flooding along low areas of Shore Boulevard and in the Marina District, he said.
The city has placed “Salt Water Flooding – Do Not Enter” portable street signage in both areas.
“If necessary, we’ll close the appropriate roads with barricades,” said O’Reilly.
Additionally, a self-service sand bag area was opened behind the Neighborhood Center located at 1617 49th Street South from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
“Water is coming up through the storm drains. That’s how we’re getting street-level flooding,” he said. “We are not seeing the beach breached.”
As soon as the tide goes out, the streets will drain, he said.
“Hopefully by Thursday, the storm will pass us by,” said O’Reilly. “Our thoughts will be with those people in the panhandle area.”
If Gulfport residents have any flooding or water-related questions, they can call the Public Works Department at 727-893-1089. For any city-related concerns, call O’Reilly at 727-893-1009.
The power punch to Florida will be when Michael makes landfall. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), it is projected to hit the panhandle at some point on Wednesday afternoon or evening as a category 4 hurricane with the potential to spawn local tornadoes.
The NWS office in Tallahassee said on Monday that “Michael could be the strongest hurricane to [make] landfall along the stretch of Florida’s Panhandle Gulf Coast in 13 years.”
“Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm, and the forecast keeps getting more dangerous,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday during an appearance in the state’s emergency operations center in Tallahassee, according to a news report in the New York Times.
According to the weather team at Spectrum Bay News 9, the storm is moving at 12 mph, which is a fast pace, meaning “it will spread strong winds farther inland and there could be power outages deep into the panhandle, southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia.”