Fox News Weather Center

How Irma's powerful winds caused ocean, bay water to seemingly disappear along Florida coast


Videos continue to emerge on social media that show an unbelievable weather phenomenon that occurred while Hurricane Irma pounded the Florida coast.

Ocean and bay water along the coast seemed to disappear.

Twitter user @Kaydi_K was one of the first to a share a video that went viral on Saturday afternoon. The video showed that Long Island, Bahamas, beach was practically bare of water.


Beaches from the Bahamas to Tampa Bay experienced this eerie event as Irma rampaged through the Atlantic waters.

The disappearance of water was largely the result of Irma's powerful winds offshore pushing water away from the coastline.

"The powerful winds out of the east, or northeast, ahead of the storm pushed the water out of the bay [Tampa Bay]. And then as the storm approached, the water surged back in," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio said.

The center of the storm is where the pressure is lowest and the winds are converging. Low pressure acts largely as a vacuum, or a sucking mechanism, in the sense that it draws the air inward.

When pressure is exceptionally low and winds are very strong, it can create a bulge of ocean water under the center of the storm.

While the missing water isn’t a sign of a tsunami, it has a tsunami-like effect in terms of water displacement, according to Rossio.

Aside from its mysterious aura, the disappearing water also affected multiple manatees. Two manatees were found stranded in Florida, which led to local efforts to save these giant mammals.

Marcelo Clavijo, in Sarasota, was among one of the rescuers. Clavijo shared posts on Facebook and Instagram asking for help.

"One wasn't moving, the other was breathing and had water in its eyes. My friends and I couldn't move these massive animals ourselves, and we called every service we could think of, but no one answered," Clavijo wrote in a Facebook post.

Clavijo later posted that a group of people were eventually able to rescue the manatees. They loaded the manatees onto tarps and dragged them to deeper water.


The lack of water may create a false sense of security. While it may appear safe to explore the barren landscape, there is a chance that the water comes back more dramatically, according to Rossio.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned in a tweet on Sunday afternoon that people should not venture onto the dry seabed.

"With the passage of the eye of Irma during the next couple of hours, the wind direction will shift to onshore, causing water levels along the southwest coast of Florida to rapidly rise in a matter of minutes. MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER! Life-threatening storm surge inundation of 10 to 15 feet above ground level is expected in this area," the tweet cautioned.