Tropical Storm Isaac passes through Manatee County, no damage reported

Herald Staff WritersAugust 28, 2012 

MANATEE -- Tropical Storm Isaac brought Manatee County tornado warnings, high surf advisories and intermittent showers Monday, but by mid-day surfers were already enjoying the beach, businesses were reopening, and the county was getting ready to deactivate its Emergency Operations Center in Bradenton.

By noon, the National Weather Service had discontinued tropical storm warnings for southwest and central Florida.

And beaches on Anna Maria were buzzing, despite the lack of sunshine.

"There's no school, so we decided to come out and see what the waves look like," said Bradenton resident John Kunz, who was walking the beach with his daughter Cecilia. "Seems like we dodged it again."

Steve Simpson, operations chief at the EOC, told staff at a 7 a.m. Monday briefing that 10- to 18-foot waves were possible along Anna Maria Island.

"The beaches are going to be a bit compromised again," Simpson said.

In June, Tropical Storm Debby significantly eroded

beaches along the island.

Nicholas Azzara, Manatee County's information outreach coordinator, said there could be additional beach damage, but a firm estimate would not be available until later in the week.

Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane later today or Wednesday when it is forecast to reach Louisiana.

Tyler Fleming, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin, said Manatee County can expect a storm surge of one to three feet.

"With all the water piling up, we can expect to see strong rip currents at least through Wednesday," he said.

Even if the sun comes out, it may not be safe to go swimming, Fleming said.

"Pay attention to any signs posted at the beach," he said. "Rip currents are a very deadly threat."

Most island businesses planned on staying open, even if staffing was scaled back to accommodate what was expected to be slow patronage.

"I believe it will be business as usual," said area restaurateur Ed Chiles. "This is turning out to be a non-event for us."

Many area tourists left Sunday when reports predicted outer bands from Tropical Storm Isaac would dump torrential rain.

But that was not the case for sisters Angie and Michele Heibart, who have been vacationing on Anna Maria Island since Friday. The duo from Orlando was still on the beach Monday morning.

"We knew it was coming, and we didn't care," Angie said. "It's been beautiful. We have had worse weather than this during a typical rainy day."

A tornado watch for Manatee County was lifted at 9 a.m., but a tornado warning was issued after 1 p.m. Monday. Tornadoes were spotted near Myakka City, Myakka Head and Duette.

No damage was reported.

Lakewood Ranch operations officials did not report any damage from the storm.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for the Manatee River near Myakka Head until Wednesday afternoon.

During the storm, eight people sought shelter at Nolan Middle School and 12 others at Manatee High School, Simpson reported at Monday's briefing. The shelters closed down by noon Monday. The Emergency Operations Center was deactivated at 2:30 p.m.

A total of 680 Florida Power & Light customers in Manatee County were affected by the storm, according to a company news release. By 5 p.m. Monday, 20 customers remained without power, said Alys Daly, FPL spokeswoman.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, high temperatures will be in the upper 80s and lows in the upper 70s, said Paul Close, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

There's a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms for both today and Wednesday, he said. The showers and thunderstorms pose threats of isolated tornados.

Manatee County, Bradenton and Palmetto government offices will re-open today, and classes at Manatee County public schools will resume.

The Manatee County School Board will hold a special meeting 5:45 p.m. Thursday at the School Support Center. The meeting is being held after Monday's scheduled meeting was postponed due to the storm.

Manatee County Area Transit service will also resume at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

-- Herald reporter Nick Williams contributed to this report.

Miriam Valverde, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamValverde. Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman.

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