A western shift and wind shear appear to have spared Tampa Bay more serious impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa, which weakened just before passing us.
Why it matters (very simply): Thank heavens.
The big picture: By sunrise yesterday, some 26,000 Floridians had lost power because of the storm, which made landfall in Taylor County with 65 mph winds, per the News Service of Florida.
- The storm initially left more than 15,400 TECO customers and 4,000 Duke Energy customers without power around Tampa Bay, but most had their power restored by midday.
We ran around town Wednesday morning and couldn't find many signs of storm damage.
- Bayshore Boulevard wasn't even flooded, which says a lot. Officials did close a few streets in Tarpon Springs and part of Tampa's famous boulevard between Swann and Rome for a short time due to wind and storm surge splashing water over the balustrade like this.
The rickety old cultural treasure Jackson House was still standing.
The Hillsborough River didn't escape its banks, so far as we could tell, although high tide combined with a storm surge threatened lawns through mid-morning.
- No serious flooding was reported in areas most prone to it, like Shore Acres in St. Pete, Gulfport, or Johns Pass.
- And state officials were confident that the storm wouldn't create a new leak at the old Piney Point phosphate plant in Manatee.
- Tampa International Airport resumed operations around 8:30am and public transit was up and running across the region by noon.
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