A summer deluge has flooded streets in the Tampa Bay area, forcing some road closings and evacuations, delaying airline flights and overtaxing parts of local wastewater treatment systems.
Major intersections were closed Monday near downtown Tampa, snarling traffic throughout the region. At Tampa International Airport, 161 outgoing and incoming flights were delayed in the morning due to rains and wind shear.
Even theme park Busch Gardens closed for the day because of inclement weather.
Pasco County was among the hardest hit areas. Emergency management officials reported $1 million in damage from weekend flooding, and county leaders said one river could reach record-levels by late Monday afternoon.
National Weather Service officials were checking on whether the rainfall may have broken records in some places.
They said that as of about 10:30 a.m., about 3.78 inches were reported at Tampa’s airport during a 12 hour period. Palm Harbor, a suburb in Pinellas County northwest of Tampa, received 7 inches of rain. There, sheriff’s deputies used boats to pull residents out of a swamped RV park and golf courses were inundated. Shelters opened for residents who were evacuated.
Nearly 6 inches of rain soaked parts of Pasco County, where a mandatory evacuation order was in effect Monday for people living in a flood-prone area near New Port Richey. The Pasco County Office of Emergency Management issued the evacuation order early Monday following heavy rain over the weekend.
Officials say the nearby Anclote River was expected to exceed 26 feet Monday afternoon, putting it at what is considered major flood stage. Charlie Paxton, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Ruskin, said the river’s record high water level is about 27 feet.
The American Red Cross opened two shelters in Pasco County and one in Pinellas County to help evacuees.
Emergency management officials were also monitoring the situation in low-lying parts of Tampa, where cars on some low-lying streets were in water up to the door. At least one interstate off-ramp was closed due to high water.
The low pressure system causing all of the rain was expected to taper off by Tuesday.
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