New Tampa saw some flooding during the beginning of August, especially in Pebble Creek (above, photo courtesy of Joe Bina)
New Tampa saw some flooding during the beginning of August, especially in Pebble Creek (above, photo courtesy of Joe Bina)

By Matt Wiley

It’s no secret that it’s been a little wet out there in recent weeks. In fact, if our recent weather pattern was just a little more windy, it would have seemed like a three-week tropical storm. However, despite days of torrential downpours, the New Tampa area was spared the truly massive flooding that plagued other areas of the city and much of western Pasco County.

According to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Ruskin, Tampa received 8.42 inches of rain between August 1-3, 7.7 inches more than what is normal for that same timeframe. And, that rainfall was in addition to the 11.84 inches of rain that fell during the month of July, 4.7 inches above normal. In fact, during the 21-day period from July 17-Aug. 3, the NWS reports that it rained every day at Tampa International Airport, during which time 10.27 inches of rain fell, which is more rain than our area normally receives for the entire month of July or August.

Although the storms caused serious flooding and roadway damage issues in older parts of the city, such as South Tampa and the Westshore business district, New Tampa’s roadways remained comparatively dry. Flooding was visible along some parts of the southbound lane of Morris Bridge Rd. near the Cross Creek Blvd. intersection, as well as along Pebble Creek Dr. (in New Tampa’s oldest subdivision), where the flooding was a little higher than usual, according to Pebble Creek resident Joe Bina (who sent the Neighborhood News a photo {right} he took from his garage along Pebble Creek Dr., which shows the floodwaters up to the top of the wheel wells of several vehicles).

But, Bina says the standing water isn’t at all surprising.

“Unfortunately, this happens all the time (on Pebble Creek Dr.) when we have torrential rains,” Bina says.

The Tampa Palms Homeowners Association (TPOA) also posted on its Facebook page about flooding in the southern section of New Tampa. 

“Although Tampa Palms received (more than seven) inches of rain today, the streets were never flooded beyond that of temporary ponding in some places,” the TPOA page said, adding that the northbound exit to Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. from Tampa Palms Blvd. was too flooded temporarily for low-riding cars and was blocked off by the Tampa Police Department (TPD). “The ponds are high but they are doing their job and the wetlands were filling with overflow.”

Tampa Palms CDD spokesperson Maggie Wilson agrees. 

“Tampa Palms was remarkably flood-free,” she says. “It was a ‘non-event’ (for our area). Tampa Palms has an incredibly complicated and functional drainage system. The water level in the ponds go way up, but drop right back down in a matter of hours.”

Tampa Bypass Canal Reactivated

In other parts of Tampa Bay, three of the four major bridges were shut down at some point and numerous major intersections in South Tampa also were closed. The flooding got so bad throughout the Tampa area that the Southwest Florida Water Management District (aka Swiftmud) activated the Tampa Bypass Canal system on August 3, when the Hillsborough River reached 25 feet above sea level. Once the bypass system is activated, it redirects the flow of the Hillsborough River away from the City of Tampa into the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area (LHFDA).

The Tampa Bypass Canal system was constructed in response to the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Donna in 1960 and was designed to divert flood waters from the Hillsborough River into the 16,000-acre LHFDA. As the detention area fills with water from the river and the surrounding 450-square-mile area, the flows then enter the Tampa Bypass Canal and are safely diverted to McKay Bay, bypassing the cities of Temple Terrace and Tampa.

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