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Date of Issue: June 07, 2007

Barry brings rain, no significant damage

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Island visitors take a walk on the short pier at Manatee Public Beach June 2, as tropical storm Barry approached the Gulf Coast. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
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The rain late Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, reduced visibility for motorists on the Island, but was welcomed by residents of the Island and throughout the drought-stricken state.
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After the storm, surfers head out to ride the waves in Bradenton Beach.
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Barry brought waves and wave-riders to Anna Maria Island. Islander Photo: Annie Williams.
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A barge lists and rests on the rocks at the Lake Lavista Inlet near the Anna Maria City Pier. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

Barry broke out of the box early - bringing the first tropical storm to the Gulf Coast just hours into the 2007 hurricane season.

After weeks without rainfall, local residents rejoiced at Barry's existence, even as they fretted about predictions for an above-normal hurricane season.

"We need the rain bad," Dick Hyde of Anna Maria said Saturday morning, as forecasters predicted the disorganized Barry to make landfall on the coast about six hours later. "I'm grateful for the rain. But I wish it was just a typical thunderstorm."

"Well, if anyone needed a nudge to get prepared, Barry gave it," said Sharon Hyde.

In May, subtropical storm Andrea out of the Atlantic sent unwelcome smoke from northern wildfires to Anna Maria Island.

On June 1, Barry brought welcome rain, as well as wind and waves that built over night to June 2. Storm warnings were issued along the Gulf coast, from Bonita Beach to Keaton Beach.

Islanders woke Saturday to find that Barry was predicted to make landfall late morning Saturday in Pinellas County, just north of Tampa Bay, posing a threat of coastal flooding, wind damage, tornadoes and creating dangerous sea conditions and the possiblilty of water spouts.

At 9 a.m., with thunder rumbling over the Gulf, rainfall was strong enough to impair visibility on the roads.

At 10 a.m. rain stopped and clouds moved north, leaving blue, sunny skies. But many residents, especially those nearest water, remained concerned about the high tide, set for about 12:15 p.m. along Anna Maria Island.

At the noon hour, residents living along canals and near the bay, especially in Holmes Beach, found water spilling into streets, including Gulf and Marina drives. Water pushed up into yards as well, but Manatee County emergency officials reported no significant property damage in the area.

Storms off the Gulf can pose a threat to sea turtle nests, but Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch executive director Suzi Fox said Saturday that no nests were lost to Barry and only one needed to be relocated. Meanwhile, as Barry approached late Friday, June 1, two turtles came ashore to nest.

As Barry moved on and dissipated into a depression June 2, surfers arrived to the shore to ride the waves.

"They aren't so good," said surfer Tammy White of Lakewood Ranch. "But they're better than usual around here. This isn't Surf City." Surfers lingered into the afternoon Saturday.

The impact of Barry lingered longer - on Saturday night an Energy Resource barge in the Lake LaVista Inlet for a dredge project listed, causing about 15 gallons of diesel fuel to spill into the water and sending the boat into the rocks, said Anna Maria City public works director George McKay. He said there was no sign of significant damage to the vessel.

The dredging is part of an Anna Maria City effort that began last week to remove sand and replace the rip-rap that has washed into the channel, narrowing the waterway and eroding the bank.

Also on the bay side in Anna Maria Sunday, yellow caution tape and a sign barred entry to the Rod & Reel Pier, which was closed. Routine repairs were previously scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but a broken utility pipe forced an early closure at the pier, which suffered other minor storm damage.

According to the National Weather Service office in Ruskin, the area received from 2 to 6 inches of rain from June 1 through June 2. Rainfall in Manatee

County is reported from a gauge at the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, which malfunctioned.

Going into this week, the forecast for the Island included a chance of thunderstorms through Wednesday and highs in the low 80s.

Experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's climate prediction center projected a 75 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season this year. Scientists predicted 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes. The government agency predicted three to five storms could be Category 3 or stronger.