Monday, 9 October 2017

Hurricane Nate Sculpts & Cleans Our Beach

Hello Nate!
Well I spoke too soon. Temperatures in the 90s F (~33C) are back and it is very muggy & sticky. Ah well, we still have a little breeze. I have been waiting to see if the tide goes under our building into the parking garage - let me explain.

Things were pretty quiet on the beach . ..  a fair number of people out, sand washed back in from Hurricane Irma; life was  . . . well dull.

The biggest excitement was this cherry picker with caterpillar tracks moving down the beach and a silly silly woman feeding the birds looking like the pied piper as they followed her on her sandy stroll . You can see in these photos the Gulf of Mexico looks as calm as a small pond.

Our impact from Hurricane Nate, arrived Saturday the 7th October.

surfing with a float!
Over the past few days we had onshore to offshore winds that pushed water away from the beach.  We also had a full moon and hence a high Spring Tide.

The winds and waves bring out the kite surfers, body surfers and the kid in all of us. Saturday afternoon the water approached our under building parking . . .

These two things - wind blowing offshore and Spring Tide - combined with Hurricane Nate travelling through and stirring up the Gulf brought back the water pushed outward. Hence the groynes were totally submerged and hidden. The size of the waves and the height of the tide on the beach has waxed and waned over the past day.

See how the dunes protect the beach -- except where there aren't dunes . . . and hence water comes close to our under building parking.

Monday morning I can see Nate has re-sculpted the beach flattening out the storm scarp and the cliff edge created by Irma. He removed a bit of sand (like Irma) so more groyne pillars are exposed, but I expect that sand to return over the next week.

The BBC weatherman forecasts the remnants of Nate will help bring up southerly winds and warmer temperatures for my London friends later this week.

Taken Sunday morning, there is still lots of debris from Hurricane Irma to be picked up.

And here's some more fun dolphin shots sis' took on her recent visit. I got a scope and tripod for my big birthday, so hopefully soon I can take these myself!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Dolphins Hide & Islands Divide in Hurricane

Yami with Yukon by Ann Weaver
Ever wondered what happens to dolphins and sand in a hurricane?  Well Irma gave us some good clues! If you think the answer is dolphins dive deep, well that is part of the answer - see the detail in this article by Ann Weaver, our local dolphin researcher.

Ann says in an earlier article that this is mom Yami with baby son Yukon born 2016. She believes they were playing a tickling game last August when she took this picture.

Source: Science News for Kids
Here's a video that shows how Shell Key had a 'breach' across the island; it started out as two islands, grew into one, and has 'breached' several times since.

Hubby and I did a whole presentation of 'Shifting Sand' for our FMNP course last July. It's hard to show as a single snap shot in time how barrier islands change, but the picture above is a good example of Assateague,Maryland which once was just 1 island! Now the southern end - a nature preserve - is moving inland while the developed northern end cannot shift due to man-made barriers.

September was the most hurricane active month on record. After Irma, we had Jose, which tracked off the East Coast, Kati, which hit Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, while Lee stayed out in the Atlantic ocean, and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, but missed Florida. Now Ned is likely to make landfall this weekend in Louisiana.  Jose, Maria and Ned all were forecast at some point to come our way - but didn't.

In the meantime, work continues here to clean-up from Irma. There is still lots of yard debris to be picked up and signs and building siding to be replaced. Hubby is fixing our little leak.

one tired beach biker
Sis arrived for a visit and for fun we tried out beach bike riding, but these balloon tires, instead of making it easier, actually were exhausting!

We went to the annual autumn start of the local Corey Market and found some Chinese Noodle Beans to try - yummy, just saute.

hatchling by CMA

pretty close in to shore!
My turtling for the season is about over as the last nests that survived Irma are hatching.

But the dolphins came out to play around our boat trip in the Boga Ciega Bay as well as outside our window. The dolphins are attracted inshore by a schools of bait fish which also bring out the pelicans for a dining feast.

heron on right below man
We've had some pretty hard rains which has left water on the beach . . . including enough that the tide has stranded some fish and made a tasty treat for this heron. A cold front passed through a couple of days ago and hallelujah, after a really hot, humid and sticky summer, it seems "autumn" has arrived with temperatures in 80s, a BIG breeze, and slightly lower humidity!! I can go outside without turning into a sweat ball.

At long last, I finished my Roseate Spoonbill fabric and stuffed a few more charity pillows with the help of friends.

Friday, 22 September 2017

The End!?! Irma Damage

at 129th Street in MB
 Hurricane Irma did minor damage in our town, this being the worst of what we have seen a few blocks south of us - although having your roof blown off might not seem 'minor' to the owner. We've heard the worst hit in this area were north-facing porches and screened-in lanais.


Here a tree toppled and took out some electric lines and tipped a utility pole.

We found a water leak in our condo which we have to investigate. It's not much and I didn't look up when returning home so only found it now. We think maybe Irma blew water in through a gap with the exterior transom above the door - hummmm . . .

All I need now is a good rainstorm to blow the remaining sand out of the screens on my balcony.

And we found a few of the railing bars were blown off the condo walkways. As you can see from the empty parking lot out front, it is September, the quietest month, and not too many people are here.

Further afield, a few manatees had a spot of bother . . . with the storm surge that sucked water out of all the bays.
The Week; 22 September 2017

someone's roofing felt
We spent yesterday evening (when it's cooler!) picking up roofing felt from the beach out front.The sand is very dry and the beach feels 'fluffy.' The city beach rackers and public works team are very busy with lots of rubbish removal, so this seemed the least we could do. So who's roof do you think was on the beach????

The USF Coastal Research Lab is now surveying our beaches to see what impact Irma made; there is some suspicion of erosion on the upper beach just in front of the dunes and along the foreshore where waves break; we did see a man swimming out and then holding up a long stripped pole at various depths offshore on the 18th - maybe surveying water depths? To us it appears the offshore sandbar has shifted slightly out to sea, but sand has returned to cover the additional exposed groyne pillars (see posts of 13 & 14 September).

Slightly smaller Hurricane Category 5 Maria started on a very similar storm path to Irma, but the jet stream and some High Pressure systems are in a different place, so Maria devastated Puerto Rico, but has missed Florida. The forecasts have been much more accurate this time, but that really doesn't help if you are facing total destruction; for the Caribbean islands it is now 'The End.' We are now in height of hurricane season which lasts until 30th November.  Jose, now a post-tropical cyclone, is still active off the east coast of the USA, and producing wind and flooding. Not sure anyone has told the weather there is a 'season,' but hopefully all of us have now had the worst of it
The dolphins have been very visible in calm Gulf of Mexico waters, with lots of leaping and tail slapping (this could be play, fights, mating or food hunting).  A bit of fish tossing too, along with one guy hunting in very close to shore. If only I had CB's camera and talent! He was so close I could see him underwater.
groyne to left and dolphin fin center right
still some piles of seaweed on the beach awaiting a high tide to be swept away

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Cleaning Up After Irma

It's hot and humid. Heat exhaustion is a concern for those without power - still millions lacking electricity in Florida. Tons of ice is being shipped into the state.  It is really tough for many Florida residents - they have big or even massive clean-ups and repairs/rebuilds to make. Even disposing of debris is a chore - see the 5 categories into which locals have to sort their stuff for trash pick-up. The Muck category = wet carpet, ruined drywall, etc. There are some new evacuation orders for flooding rivers in Florida, but none affecting us.
The Florida citrus industry, 70% smaller than 20 years ago, is very badly hit along with sugar cane and veggies. Milk is being dumped as they cannot take it to processing plants that don't have power. Thankfully the cattle are largely contained and not wandering the roads. I even found a website detailing instructions to evacuate cattle in a hurricane - who knew?!?

Media starting to report on how to get financial aid for those with major damage. Click here if you want to read more about Tampa Bay hurricane damage. Grocery stores and city hall still not open on MB. We haven't yet seen the residential building that was reported to have lost its roof.

Living on MB we are very lucky - our clean-up only involves a small bit of sand removal from paths and under building parking plus off railings & cars where it was blasted.  
Of course our pool area needs sorting too - getting the sand off the bottom plus those loungers out of the pool where they hid during Irma, as well as putting back chairs and planted pots sheltering in our lobby. Done Thursday afternoon, so hopefully the pool will be back in business Friday.
We cleaned our balcony today - washed the floors, and oiled the metal furniture to protect it a bit from salt spray.

What do you think this is washed up on the dunes?

Gulf water temperatures have dropped about 6 degrees post Irma to 82 F.  And even the City doesn't have a huge beach clean-up job - just in the main a bit more seaweed to clear (it does start to stink!) which they started to do today. Everyone is working hard to get things back to 'normal,' and the traffic light at 150th and Gulf is back on!
Sea turtle season is drawing to a close, and we will have to see how the few remaining nests fared.

count those additional exposed  groyne pillars

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Post Storm & Return Home - What will we find?

Having waited for more traffic lights to become operational and checked our local Publix was open (or so said the Publix website), we made our way home from Lakeland to the Gulf Beaches today (Wednesday) midday.  What would we find??

Well the journey went remarkably well.  There were a few Road Rangers out helping motorists with broken down vehicles.  The Interstate was very clear - only a few leaves on the side and one piece of plywood in the road for our whole 50 mile (just over 1 hour) journey. And the plywood didn't even cause a problem.

Many Interstate lights had been lowered on their poles and were still down. About 50-75% of the high billboards were torn beyond legibility.

It was good to see utility trucks out working. This one near Dinosaur Land, a distinctive sight on the I-4 approaching Tampa.

We drove through Tampa and then onto the Gandy Bridge making good time. See all the traffic (not) ???
Gandy Bridge

One driver was really concerned about finding petrol- see the car on the left with the red plastic containers on his roof?

no traffic light junction

Just a single intersection had no traffic lights on the way to our barrier island, but it was well staffed by police. Glad they got some cover from the sun too! A few bent lightpoles along the way as well.

At last our drawbridge and home - to the right in the bay a small boat has sunk at the Yacht Club.
look right now for sunken boat

Driving south on Gulf Blvd. at 150th Ave

But on the island at 150th and Gulf traffic lights are out of action; thankfully the police have it well under control.

Publix and Winn Dixie supermarkets still have no power supply and hence are closed. Should have bought those groceries en-route - aw well.

And at last we are home! All looks well and the electricity is on; out front the pole repair of a few weeks ago survived the winds, maybe better it went out before Irma hit and was repaired last month?

Irving is busy cleaning up and seems only a little sand blew in the under building parking area.

Cars are all OK!

We removed our things from
our balcony putting down the hurricane shutters. A little sand got in under the shutters so time for a clean-up (picture right is for my snowbird neighbours).

So how's it looking out at the beach? Lots of sand blown about . . .
even the leaves coated in sand

Seems we have uncovered a bit of the beach groynes and lowered the dunes a little, but otherwise just fine!

The few sea turtle nests that remain at the end of this season have been re-staked and there are some interesting shells on the beach (even more on Shell Key - to see visit Sea Turtle Trackers on Facebook here).

Even the crabs are back enjoying the beach along with a few intrepid tourists bathing in the sea. Yesterday and today were almost Florida autumnal - below 85F (29.5 C) and not too humid. Sadly for those without electricity, Thursday onward is forecast to go back to typical hot, sticky summer weather in the 90s (32+ C).

We in Tampa Bay were so so fortunate! Hubby and I are updating our hurricane plan based on this 'trial run.'
crab hole - so much sand!

tide lines in the sand

was 7 now 9 exposed groyne pillars