Live beach cam: http://amipost.com/surf-cam-holmes-beach/
On August 18th, a weather disturbance in the Atlantic Ocean formed into an area of tropical interest and labelled “Invest 99L” by meteorologists. For ten days it crept across the ocean and meandered in the eastern Caribbean. By Monday August 29th, Tropical Depression 9 hatched, and unconstrained by prior nearby steering winds headed into the Gulf of Mexico to become Tropical Storm Hermine on Wednesday.
West Florida went on high alert. Storms this close sometimes run up the coast like Tropical Storm Debby (2012), sometimes change direction suddenly or quickly intensify like Hurricane Charley (2004). In any case Hermine looked like it would be a rain-maker like Tropical Storm Colin earlier this year.
Anna Maria Island residents experience nature’s best and worst conditions. Summer storms can be brief and invigorating or inconvenient and terrifying. Hermine kept offshore but the effects stayed around for 3 days, tossing 9″ of rain, 45mph wind bursts, frequent lightning and massive thunder booms from waves of storm-bred feeder bands.
Combined with 2½ feet of surge on top of 2½ foot high tides, torrential and long-lasting rainfall overwhelmed the newly installed “percolation” pit drainage, causing what many people described as the worst flooding they have ever seen on the island. Schools closed Thursday, roads became impassable, and sewers backed up. Power stayed on apart from a short outage when a falling tree brought down some lines.
Many islanders are breathing a sigh of relief after a recent computer model used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted only a very low probability of oil or tar balls from the Deepwater Horizon reaching Anna Maria Island.
NOAA’s computer model map identifies the probability of problems in various sections of the Gulf and Atlantic Coast. Not surprisingly, the eastern Louisiana coast, the entire Alabama coast and the western half of the Florida Panhandle coast are given the highest probability, from 81 to 100 per cent.
What is surprising, however, are the regions with the second-highest probability of being contaminated by oil and tar. Areas in this group have a 61 to 80 percent chance of this, and they include the south central Louisiana coast and a very small zone in the central coastal part of the Florida Panhandle. Then comes the big surprise for this 61 to 80 percent prediction area: another large zone that runs from the Florida Keys up around the entire southeast coast of the state.
Anna Maria Island sits right on the border between two probability zones. The “below 1 percent” zone runs south from here. The “1 to 20 percent” zone runs north, beyond Tampa, almost to the Panhandle. What welcomed news this is.
These predictions were based on the assumption that the oil will continue to gush through late July at a rate of 33,000 barrels a day. Since it is based on historic wind and ocean current patterns, it’s not possible to anticipate what variation may occur with a major hurricane in the Gulf.