Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Hurricane Matthew washes out red tide on Longboat Key

Although the storm barely affected the Gulf Coast, rotting fish carcasses and seaweed disappeared from island beaches.

  • By
  • | 3:26 p.m. October 7, 2016
Hurricane Matthew washed away dead fish from the beaches of Longboat Key.
Hurricane Matthew washed away dead fish from the beaches of Longboat Key.
  • Longboat Key
  • News
  • Share

For the second time in five weeks, Longboat Key received unexpected benefits from a passing hurricane.

Longboat Key’s brush with Hurricane Hermine the first week in September left it with more sand to deposit in its beach renourishment projects. It briefly flooded some north-end streets but damage was minimal.

Hurricane Matthew has been even more beneficial. Over the past two days, it not only left more sand for the dredge to redistribute, it broke up the red tide stranglehold on Longboat Key beaches and canal waters.

A week after 43.89 tons of red tide-stricken dead fish had to be removed from Longboat Key beaches, winds and waves from Hurricane Matthew helped scour the sandy strands encircling the isle. Rotting carcasses, prevalent just a week earlier, were gone from plain sight Friday.

“Red tide seems to dissipate in rough water or high winds,” said Longboat Key Town Manager David Bullock as he monitored the storm from his office via Hurrevac, a storm tracker from the National Hurricane Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Center.

Only the outer storm bands of Hurricane Matthew touched the Gulfside beaches Friday on Longboat Key after making landfall Thursday, on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The Category 4 storm packed 150-mph wind gusts at its fiercest points, according to the National Weather Service.

Not so on the Gulf Coast. On Friday, when Longboat Key was expected to field the brunt of the storm, tropical breezes heavy with moisture occasionally stiffened into gusts capable of stinging bare ankles on the beach with driven sand. There were no reports of Longboat Key damage as of mid-afternoon Friday.

Bullock said dredging should resume Monday when the dredge returns from safe harbor in Tampa where it stood out the storm.

He remained respectful benefits from Mother Nature could be taken away as easily as they are bestowed. He said Mother Nature could in mere minutes easily remove all the sand painstakingly placed on Longboat Key beaches the past few months.

“She’s much more efficient than we are,” he said.


Latest News