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Researchers look into Hurricane Ian’s impact after reverse storm surge in Tampa Bay

Hurricane Ian drained seven feet of water out of Tampa Bay

SAINT PETERSBURG – Right before Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, the storm drained seven feet of water out of Tampa Bay. Now, the water is being tested to see if it impacted the bay.

Normally, low tide lowers the Bay's water by less than two feet, but the reverse storm surge from Ian took seven feet of water out into the Gulf. That's one foot more than the six feet of reverse surge caused by Irma.

Testing continues to be done on the water quality, but Ed Sherwood with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program said it could have possibly helped the Bay by flushing out some of the bad.

"We’re hoping that from the latest conditions in the Bay, it may have sucked out some of the organic material and seaweeds that were piling up on the shallow seagrass flats, and that might be a benefit," Sherwood said.

According to Sherwood, there could also be negative impacts.

"About 64% of the nitrogen loads going into Tampa Bay come from stormwater," Sherwood said. "That has a huge effect on water quality, causing algae blooms to occur, which shades out seagrasses and causes problems for the ecology of the Bay."