The odds of a hurricane spoiling the Republican National Convention in Tampa

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:48 PM GMT on August 14, 2012

Share this Blog
49
+

On September 25, 1848, the Great Gale of 1848, the most violent hurricane in Tampa's history, roared ashore as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane with 115 - 135 mph winds. Major R. D. S. Wade weathered the storm in Fort Brooke, in what is now downtown Tampa. Here is what he wrote this to his commanding officer in Washington D.C.: "The waters rose to an unprecedented height, and the waves swept away the wharves and all the buildings that were near the Bay or river." A 15-foot storm surge was observed at Fort Brooke, and the peninsula where St. Petersburg lies in Pinellas County was inundated "at the waist" and "the bays met," making St. Petersburg an island. After the hurricane, "Tampa was a scene of devastation. Magnificent old oaks were toppled by the hurricane's winds. At Fort Brooke the barracks, horse shed, and other structures were gone. The pine forest north of the garrison was filled with wreckage and debris. The hurricane's powerful surge had shifted sand all along the coast and reshaped many of the keys near Tampa Bay. Navigation routes were filled in and closed, making charts of the area produced before 1848 almost useless after the hurricane. In terms of intensity and destruction, the 1848 storm remains perhaps the greatest in Tampa's history" (Barnes, 1999.)


Figure 1. Pencil sketch of the Captains' Quarters, drawn by one of the officers stationed at Fort Brooke in 1845. Fort Brooke was one of the largest military establishments in the United States at the time. Image Credit: The Tampa Bay History Center.

Fort Brooke today
Fort Brooke is the current site of the Tampa Bay Convention Center, which hosts the Republican National Convention on August 27 - 30 this year. The convention center is in Evacuation Zone A, which is evacuated for Category 1 hurricanes. The Tampa Bay Times Forum and two major convention hotels--the Tampa Marriott Waterside and the Embassy Suites--are in Evacuation Zone B, which is evacuated for Category 2 hurricanes. In a worst-case Category 4 hurricane, the Convention Center could be immersed in 20 feet of water. Clearly, even a Category 1 hurricane would be enough to spoil the convention. So, what are the odds of a mass evacuation order being issued for Tampa Bay during the convention?


Figure 2. Predicted height above ground of the water from a worst-case Category 4 hurricane in the Tampa Bay region, as computed using NOAA's SLOSH storm surge model. The Tampa Bay convention center would go under 20 feet of water, and St. Petersburg would become an island, as occurred during the 1848 hurricane.


Figure 3. Perhaps the most spectacular hurricane image ever captured: view of Hurricane Elena on September 1, 1985, as seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery. At the time, Elena was a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds, located just 80 miles offshore from Tampa Bay, Florida. The hurricane prompted the largest mass evacuation in Tampa Bay history.

Two mass evacuations in Tampa in the past 25 years
Two hurricanes have prompted mass evacuations of more than 300,000 people from the Tampa Bay area over the past 25 years. The first was Hurricane Elena of 1985, a Category 3 hurricane that stalled 80 miles offshore for two days on Labor Day weekend, bringing a 6 - 7 foot storm surge, wind gusts of 80 mph, and torrential rains. On August 13, 2004, another mass evacuation was ordered for Hurricane Charley. Thanks to a late track shift, Charley missed Tampa Bay, and instead hit well to the south in Port Charlotte as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. More limited evacuations of low-lying areas and mobile homes in the 4-county Tampa Bay region were ordered for three other hurricanes in the past fifteen years--Hurricane Georges of 1998, Hurricane Frances of 2004, and Hurricane Jeanne of 2004. Other historical storms which would likely trigger mass evacuations were they occur today include:

The 1921 hurricane. One of only two major hurricanes to hit Tampa, this Category 3 storm brought a storm tide of 10.5 feet.

Hurricane Easy of 1950. The hurricane parked itself over the west coast of Florida, drenching residents with record-breaking rains, and brought a 6.5 ft storm surge to Tampa Bay.


Figure 4. Damage to Bayshore Boulevard after the 1921 Tampa Bay hurricane. The road leads to the Tampa Bay Convention Center from the south.


Figure 5. Track of the Tampa Bay Hurricane of 1921, one of only two major hurricanes ever to hit the city. This Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds brought a storm tide of 10.5 feet to Tampa Bay.


Figure 6. A near miss: just a slight deviation in the path of Hurricane Charley of 2004 would have brought the Category 4 hurricane into Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay's vulnerability to hurricanes
Tampa Bay doesn't get hit very often by hurricanes. The last time it suffered a direct hit by any hurricane was 1946, when a Category 1 storm came up through the bay. The Tampa Bay Hurricane of October 25, 1921 was a the last major hurricane to make landfall in the Tampa Bay Region. At that time, there were 160,000 residents in the 4-county region, most of whom lived in communities on high ground. Today there are 2.75 million residents in the region, most of whom live along the coast and low-lying areas or in manufactured housing. About 1/3 of the 4-county Tampa Bay region lies within a flood plain. Over 800,000 people live in evacuation zones for a Category 1 hurricane, and 2 million people live in evacuation zones for a Category 5 hurricane, according to the 2010 Statewide Regional Evacuation Study for the Tampa Bay Region. Given that only 46% of the people in the evacuation zones for a Category 1 hurricane evacuated when Category 4 Hurricane Charley threatened the region, the potential for hundreds or thousands of people to die when the next major hurricane hits the region is high. In the long run, I expect a multi-billion dollar sea wall will be built to protect Tampa Bay from storm surges, since sea level rise will make storm surge damages increasingly problematic. A 2007 study by Tufts University titled, Florida and Climate Change, found that a 2.25 foot increase in sea level--which many sea level rise scientists expect will happen by the end of the century--would put 152,000 people in Pinellas County (where St. Petersburg is located) at risk of inundation.

The hurricane forecast for the Republican National Convention
Given that there have been two mass evacuations of Tampa during the past 25 years during the peak three-month period of hurricane season--August, September, and October--history suggests that the odds of a mass evacuation order being given during the 4-day period that the Republican National Convention is in town are probably around 0.2%. Any tropical waves which might develop into hurricanes that could hit Tampa during the convention would have to come off the coast of Africa next week. Looking at the latest 16-day forecast from the GFS, all of the tropical waves coming off of Africa next week are predicted to exit too far north to make the long crossing of the Atlantic and threaten the Gulf Coast. While something could develop in the Gulf of Mexico from the remains of an old cold front, it is rare for such storms to grow strong enough to deserve mass evacuations. So far, early signs point to a hurricane-free Republican National Convention at the end of August.

References
Barnes, J., 1999, Florida’s Hurricane History. The University of North Carolina Press.

Weisberg, R.H, and L. Zheng, 2006, "Hurricane storm surge simulations for Tampa Bay", Estuaries and Coasts Vol 29, No. 6A, pp 899-913.

History of Pasco County: The 1921 Hurricane

The 2010 Statewide Regional Evacuation Study for the Tampa Bay Region

The Tampa Bay Catastrophic Plan for a Category 5 $250 billion hurricane

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 236 - 186

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27Blog Index

Updated models for 93L:

Photobucket

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.

~Oscar Ameringer
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
AL, 93, 2012081418, , BEST, 0, 252N, 521W, 25, 1014, WV,
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TXCWC:
BIG difference on BOC low strength and position between GFS and Euro on day 7 and after. I believe the thing to take away from 12Z Euro however is that it has blinked for now, and come more in agreement with GFS on at least a Low developing. Given this I also believe at this point the benefit of the doubt should go to the GFS - again, for now - given on how insistent it has been on this the last few days and now the other top model showing some "signs"


Hey TX! Starting to get some agreement here. And something in the Atlantic.

Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 459
Captiva Island before and after Charley, scary stuff...



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
This Is Why NOAA Supposedly Ordered 46,000 Rounds Of Ammunition


See what happens when one hears the whole story. It makes sense now. thanks for the link.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pcola57:


I agree,
Looks as though 4-5 years of continous La Nina..
And thanks for the info VAbeachhurricanes.. :)


Anytime! :)
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5695
229. TXCWC
Euro end of run - day 10 - off the Texas/Mex Coast where GFS has been showing for some time now - hummmm- as I just said earlier - right now benefit of doubt should go with GFS

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Deleted
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Houstonweathergrl:


I love this comment. It is so true. There was a time when you didn't know which party a person belonged to, and if you did you didn't care. It breaks my heart to see what we have been reduced to. Truly enlightened individuals can respect differences and still be engaged. To do anything else, i.e. name calling especially, is IGNORANT !!! I think i'm done ranting but it really bothers me. Let us learn the meaning of civility.


When pushed against the wall, I'll support our Commander in Chief. Maybe I'm naive but I don't think I stand alone in this sentiment. Of course, I'm ex military so I was trained to defend my country and consequently her commander.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pcola57:
I see it's moving at around 20mph and has some inter-action with land so the NHC's thinking of 10% is a pretty good one IMO.. :)

** A TROPICAL WAVE...THE REMNANTS OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN...
IS MOVING ONSHORE THE COASTS OF NICARAGUA AND NORTHEASTERN HONDURAS.
ALTHOUGH SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS HAVE INCREASED OVER THE
WEST-CENTRAL CARIBBEAN SEA...REGENERATION OF THIS DISTURBANCE INTO
A TROPICAL CYCLONE IS UNLIKELY DUE TO INTERACTION WITH THE LAND
MASSES OF CENTRAL AMERICA OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A
LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE AGAIN
DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS. HEAVY RAINS AND GUSTY WINDS WILL BE
POSSIBLE ACROSS PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AMERICA TODAY AND WEDNESDAY AS
THE WAVE MOVES WESTWARD AT 15 TO 20 MPH.




and it likey going too be drop too %0 at the 8pm two or be re move from the two
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
So it appears to me that the WCK is the Tim Tebow/Lebron James of this blog. Everybody is talking or has a criticism of him.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well, this is great news for us planning for the RNC... :-/
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Nice post Grothar. I remember when there were conservative democrats and liberal republicans. Not some iron clad one monolithic view of the world as I see it attitude. I'm hoping the current state of affairs isn't what it was like just before the last civil war but I'm afraid to look.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3109
Re;Post #207 Grothar
I see it's moving at around 20mph and has some inter-action with land so the NHC's thinking of 10% is a pretty good one IMO.. :)

** A TROPICAL WAVE...THE REMNANTS OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN...
IS MOVING ONSHORE THE COASTS OF NICARAGUA AND NORTHEASTERN HONDURAS.
ALTHOUGH SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS HAVE INCREASED OVER THE
WEST-CENTRAL CARIBBEAN SEA...REGENERATION OF THIS DISTURBANCE INTO
A TROPICAL CYCLONE IS UNLIKELY DUE TO INTERACTION WITH THE LAND
MASSES OF CENTRAL AMERICA OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A
LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE AGAIN
DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS. HEAVY RAINS AND GUSTY WINDS WILL BE
POSSIBLE ACROSS PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AMERICA TODAY AND WEDNESDAY AS
THE WAVE MOVES WESTWARD AT 15 TO 20 MPH.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Deleted
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting allancalderini:
If this can move to the BOC it may have a chance.


Don't you start now. LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
weather channel is saying same thing you are. that is deep trough close to 93L is supposed to turn it north and then northeast. High probably not going to build back in fast enough.
Quoting sar2401:


Not unless you disbelieve every model, upper air wind charts, cooler water, and your own eyes looking at satellite photos. Where did you come up with this idea?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Coastalgramps:
Looks like 93L is going to pump the ridge and keep going West.


Not unless you disbelieve every model, upper air wind charts, cooler water, and your own eyes looking at satellite photos. Where did you come up with this idea?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
I sure do miss the days when we, in the United States, were just plain Americans, who happened to belong to different political parties. It was rumored that members of different parties actually inter-married. They even went to each other's homes for dinner. I even hear a rumor that in 1964, the Republican headquarters on Long Island lent the Democrats, whose truck had broken down, their truck to distribute their posters.

The following week, in another district, the Republican headquarters lost their phone lines. The Democratic headquarters let the Republican members in to use their phones. So side by side, both parties were making calls. Actually, it isn't a rumor.

Hate is a terrible thing to waste.


I love this comment. It is so true. There was a time when you didn't know which party a person belonged to, and if you did you didn't care. It breaks my heart to see what we have been reduced to. Truly enlightened individuals can respect differences and still be engaged. To do anything else, i.e. name calling especially, is IGNORANT !!! I think i'm done ranting but it really bothers me. Let us learn the meaning of civility.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
Any chance this could develop into anything? :)

If this can move to the BOC it may have a chance.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
212. JLPR2
Quoting Grothar:
Any chance this could develop into anything? :)



If it doesn't get the blob designation, then no. :P
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8459
Quoting outofdablue:


Thank you for the information. It appears 1916 would have been la nina.


I agree,
Looks as though 4-5 years of continous La Nina..
And thanks for the info VAbeachhurricanes.. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
Any chance this could develop into anything? :)




likey this some day time t-storms from the heating of the day likey too fall a part at sunset
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting xtremeweathertracker:
Good grief, there are some drama queens on this blog!!!


I think many in the forum collectively woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning! It's been like this all day.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
208. TXCWC
BIG difference on BOC low strength and position between GFS and Euro on day 7 and after. I believe the thing to take away from 12Z Euro however is that it has blinked for now, and come more in agreement with GFS on at least a Low developing. Given this I also believe at this point the benefit of the doubt should go to the GFS - again, for now - given on how insistent it has been on this the last few days and now the other top model showing some "signs"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Any chance this could develop into anything? :)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If Tampa does get a storm it'll be agw.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wunderkidcayman:


I don't over hype a lot of storm at all

plus TAZ. I did not say that EX-TD7 will redevelop. dummy maybe if you sit down, keep quiet, and read more, you will clearly see I said it could happen (meaning that there is a possiblity of it happening) not that it will happen or is happening (meaning that is is happening now it is currently doing it)


Reported. Name calling should not be acceptable practice and you're out of order.

When you're wrong, admit it and move on. Quit being so childish as you will start to earn your name "kid" and you'll have no one to blame but yourself if again someone mistakes you for one.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
204. JLPR2
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Definitely a lot more convection in the Southwest Caribbean than I have seen in recent days.



MJO? Maybe...
:P
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8459
Quoting FluffnStuff:
This blog doesn't need a moderator, it needs a referee.



LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:


well there it is..typical WU..when one dosen't agree, then name calling starts, and the infamous words are used such as ridiculous and ignorant..you dont know me so why are you shocked?..this is my last post and Im leaving it alone..I admit, you baited the hook and I took it but I am throwing it back...


well you dont have much of a leg to stand on, you are the one who said you hope it doesnt hit the democrats because there is substance there...is it wise to throw bait on a weather blog?

forget this whole politics discussion....Everybody
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Definitely a lot more convection in the Southwest Caribbean than I have seen in recent days.

Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
I sure do miss the days when we, in the United States, were just plain Americans, who happened to belong to different political parties. It was rumored that members of different parties actually inter-married. They even went to each other's homes for dinner. I even hear a rumor that in 1964, the Republican headquarters on Long Island lent the Democrats, whose truck had broken down, their truck to distribute their posters.

The following week, in another district, the Republican headquarters lost their phone lines. The Democratic headquarters let the Republican members in to use their phones. So side by side, both parties were making calls. Actually, it isn't a rumor.

Hate is a terrible thing to waste.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This blog doesn't need a moderator, it needs a referee.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY AND
SOUTHEAST NEW YORK.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

SCATTERED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL MOVE ACROSS THE AREA
THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH TONIGHT. THERE WILL BE A SLIGHT RISK OF
SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS. THE MAIN THREAT WITH THE SEVERE STORMS WILL
BE STRONG WINDS AND/OR LARGE HAIL.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...WEDNESDAY THROUGH MONDAY.

NO HAZARDOUS WEATHER IS EXPECTED AT THIS TIME THAT WOULD MEET
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WARNING CRITERIA.

.SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...

SPOTTER ACTIVATION MAY BE NEEDED.

&&

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK PROVIDES A SUMMARY OF POTENTIAL
WIDESPREAD HAZARDOUS WEATHER EVENTS THAT MAY REACH NWS WARNING
CRITERIA. MOST LONG FUSED NWS WATCHES...WARNINGS AND ADVISORIES IN
EFFECT ARE HIGHLIGHTED.

PLEASE REFER TO THE LATEST NWS FORECASTS FOR WEATHER NOT MEETING NWS
WARNING CRITERIA.

$$
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wunderkidcayman:


dude I am not saying it will develop I am saying it could extremely big diffrence it is not dead not till there is not visible signs of a tropical wave there



is dead not going too fourm
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WxGeekVA:



Dude... Give it up... 07L is dead and gone... Maybe it'll meet up with something in the GOM and develop then. But it isn't developing in the Caribbean. Just admit you were wrong, like I do a lot, and don't scream and yell about it. All it does is make you look bad and then people want to ignore you.

Keep Calm and Forecast On!


dude I am not saying it will develop I am saying it could extremely big diffrence it is not dead not till there is not visible signs of a tropical wave there
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good grief, there are some drama queens on this blog!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MississippiWx:


Lol. Wow, this is one of the top most ridiculous things I've read here. Sure sounds like you would be happy to have someone's city ruined as long as it ruined the convention of a party you do not agree with on politics. Only the dems have anything of substance? This is also an ignorant statement. I do not agree with dems, but I realize that they have better ideas than repubs on some issues. I'm really shocked and disappointed in your method of thinking.

Is there any doubt as to why our country is going to hell in a hand basket? People would go to any extreme to see the other political party fail. What a sad state for our country.


well there it is..typical WU..when one dosen't agree, then name calling starts, and the infamous words are used such as ridiculous and ignorant..you dont know me so why are you shocked?..this is my last post and Im leaving it alone..I admit, you baited the hook and I took it but I am throwing it back...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting LargoFl:
..and what..did i say wrong here?..IF i had said its headed to FLORIDA..would floridians be offended?, forewarned is forearmed..better they understand there IS a chance this comes to them..


Oh I didn't say you said ANYTHING wrong Largo. I'm sorry you misunderstood me. I was just pointing out we have friends here that live in Europe and watch what our "fish storms" do. I think it's great they have a place to come and watch what is happening and learn what might impact them. I ment no offense.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
190. TXCWC
Yup - Euro Day 6 - Low still there and about the same area as GFS has it - while Euro is weaker at this point than GFS - there does appear to be a better developing consensus between the 2 top models of at least a BOC low developing and maybe worth watching in the coming days

Euro Day 6
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wunderkidcayman:


quoting wunderkidcayman

lol NHC inverted colours on the map



on other note EX TD7 is really looking good such a shame it will head into land later but you never know it could use that energy very soon and try to develop before landfall (I AM NOT SAYING IT WILL, I AM JUST SAYING IT COULD HAPPEN SO DON'T SAY "MAN YOU STILL ON ABOUT THIS AGAIN" CAUSE I AM NOT)______________________________________________ ________

I guess you may want to rephrase that to "I am absoultly sure you said it could happen"



nope just tring to drill it past the skin on your head and the skull covering you brain and shoving it in to the middle pat of it making sure you understood me corectly so you can stop bashing me



your still being vary rude
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


No... I am pretty sure you said it would happen... maybe like 100 times.


quoting wunderkidcayman

lol NHC inverted colours on the map



on other note EX TD7 is really looking good such a shame it will head into land later but you never know it could use that energy very soon and try to develop before landfall (I AM NOT SAYING IT WILL, I AM JUST SAYING IT COULD HAPPEN SO DON'T SAY "MAN YOU STILL ON ABOUT THIS AGAIN" CAUSE I AM NOT)______________________________________________ ________

I guess you may want to rephrase that to "I am absoultly sure you said it could happen"

Quoting Tazmanian:



are you trying too pick a fight with me by saying site down and keep quite ?


nope just tring to drill it past the skin on your head and the skull covering you brain and shoving it in to the middle pat of it making sure you understood me corectly so you can stop bashing me
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Sorry about that didnt see it, here ya go. click to enlarge.






Thank you for the information. It appears 1916 would have been la nina.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 236 - 186

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27Blog Index

Top of Page

About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.