Manatee County woke up — rather unexpectedly— to Tropical Storm Emily on Monday morning.
The tropical storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, made landfall on Anna Maria Island around 10:45 a.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Historical documents on tropical storms and hurricanes have sparse records of storms making direct landfall on Manatee County.
As of 5 p.m., Emily had weakened to a tropical depression and Manatee County and the rest of Florida’s Gulf Coast were no longer under a tropical storm warning. The storm, which currently has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, was located 30 miles northwest of Sebring, traveling east at 10 mph.
“There are reports of localized street flooding, downed trees and sporadic power outages,” said Nick Azzara, Manatee County spokesman. As of 5 p.m., only 3,222 residents remained without power, down from about 6,500 customers earlier in the day, according to Florida Power & Light.
There have not been any reports of major damage or impacts on Anna Maria Island, according to Azzara.
For many Manatee County residents and visitors, Tropical Storm Emily was an unexpected surprise Monday.
But Stephen Shiveley with the National Weather Service in Ruskin said forecasters had been noting for a few days that both Sunday and Monday were “going to be very wet with potential for flooding.”
“It just developed very quickly before it made landfall,” he said. “We were already expecting some heavier rain.”
With some areas of Manatee County seeing rain amounts of more than 5 inches, Shiveley said Manatee County was hit the hardest by the storm.
According to Manatee County Emergency Management, three tropical storms — in 1858, 1930 and 2007 — previously made landfall in Manatee County. A Category 1 hurricane made landfall on Longboat Key in 1946.
A book published in 1933 titled “The Lures of Manatee” mentions a storm hitting Manatee County on Sept. 23, 1848 — its second hurricane.
“In places along the banks of the Manatee River, the water was hurled in with such force that it threatened to wash away homes,” the book reads. “It beat hard against the houses, rocking them back and forth. ...All the islands skirting Tampa and Sarasota Bays were covered with the exception of Egmont Key on which stood the new lighthouse, which also was blown down.”
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which had been closed due to 60 mph wind gusts in the area, reopened at 2:20 p.m. Monday, according to Florida Highway Patrol.
Storm damage, including branches and other debris, closed Emerson Point Preserve, which officials expected to reopen Tuesday, according to a Manatee County government tweet. Manatee County public works department reported “standing water on many local roads, but no roads are closed to traffic in unincorporated Manatee County,” according to a county tweet.
The city of Bradenton announced three road closures as of Monday morning, including 17th Avenue West from First through Sixth streets west, Riverview Boulevard from 20th through 26th streets west and 10th Avenue East from 13th through 15th streets east.
Before Emily made landfall Monday morning, Rod & Reel Pier closed as a precaution due to excess winds, but it was expected to reopen Tuesday, according to a posted sign.
Both Anna Maria City Pier and Bradenton Beach’s Historic Bridge Street Pier remained open. City Pier Restaurant was closed Monday, but Anna Maria Oyster Bar on Bridge Street was still open.
“Everything is open except for docking,” said Tim Bingham, general manager of Anna Maria Oyster Bar on Bridge Street.
Out in East Manatee, the rain left Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue scrambling for help.
“HELP! Our ranch is already flooding with the rain this morning,” according to a Facebook post, which showed the flooding. “We are looking for fosters or adopters to get the animals out of the shelter until the rain subsides.”
In West Bradenton, Geraldson Community Farm, which is located off 99th Street Northwest, posted a picture of damage to Facebook on Monday.
As Emily aimed for Florida’s West Coast on Monday morning, Gov. Rick Scott issued an order declaring a state of emergency in 31 counties.
“Earlier this morning, Tropical Depression Six was upgraded to Tropical Storm Emily and tropical storm warnings are currently in effect along Florida’s west coast,” Scott said in a press release. “Upon learning of this tropical system from the National Hurricane Center, the State of Florida immediately engaged to prepare for any potential storm impacts.”
With the arrival of Tropical Storm Emily, the Salvation Army Manatee County announced that they will have a free night on Monday. Intake begins at 6 p.m.
“We are anticipating close to 200 men, women and children this evening,” Kelly French, the organization’s director of community relations and development, said in a news release Monday.
As the storm briefly swirled up a tornado warning for the northwest Bradenton-Palmetto area, some residents could immediately see the effects.
Andrew Madonio, who was visiting Bradenton and was supposed to fly out of Tampa on Monday, said he was sitting in the roofed lanai area of a Northwest Bradenton home around 10:55 a.m. when he heard “a couple of really good gusts.”
Then part of the neighbor’s oak tree split, crashing on their shared fence and onto the pool cage. About half caved in.
Madonio said he immediately ducked behind a chair just in case the sliding glass doors would shatter. While the extent of the damage isn’t known for certain, he said the house’s roof appeared to be OK.
The National Weather Service said Manatee County should see improving conditions Monday evening before a return to a normal summertime rain pattern Tuesday.
Staff writers Hannah Morse, Mark Young and Michael Moore Jr. contributed to this report.