Hurricane season officially begins on June 1. This year the season was but four days old when Tropical Storm Andrea came calling on Clearwater Beach. Yep, June 5 and we were there. The storm’s effects became noticeable Wednesday evening as a frog strangling rain (I am using polite terms here) hit the area. A short time later, a rumbling wind that would end up lasting about 15 hours was upon us. If you have never heard that kind of wind before you’re missing out. Put that on your bucket list, (make that your post-bucket list). By early Thursday morning, waterspouts had been spotted and a few small tornadoes had caused damage around the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. None of the twisters got close to us, but that doesn’t mean that we were not paying very close attention to the local and national radar. It’s not like there are storm cellars at the beach and we wondered how we might defend ourselves if a spout showed up. Harsh language? The watches and warnings came and went as well as the stories and pictures of downed trees, missing building parts, and local flooding that ran in never ending loops. It was quite the blow and show. As water began to rise on the beach, we began to wonder how far it would advance.
The Palm Pavilion Restaurant just down the beach from us had water right up to the outdoor seating we have often enjoyed. A little later in the morning, some kind of motorized vehicle pulled up behind the lifeguard house and began to tow it farther away from the advancing ocean – the building was in danger of drifting out to sea. Now, that would have been some show! A few idiots could be seen on the beach now and then – think Darwin awards – but there were no stories of anyone going missing. But they certainly tried. It was rain and wind, wind and rain for much of the day. Later, as Andrea flew past us to create havoc in other parts of Florida, the Carolinas, and up the rest of the eastern seaboard, other candidates for early demise began to appear on the beach. Several windsurfers and a few regular surfers took advantage of the conditions, and they put on quite a performance. We tried not to worry as the day progressed, but we did stay frosty. By Friday morning the sky was clear, the air fresh and the storm was gone. Just a few tidal pools remained in odd parts of the beach, and many of those began to dry out as the day advanced. Nothing lasts very long at the beach.