Hurricane Idalia 2023
On Wednesday, August 30th, 2023, Hurricane Idalia passed Sarasota about 100 miles to the west in the Gulf of Mexico. While far enough away so that there no significant wind impact, Sarasota was on the "dirty side" of the hurricane and experienced three-or-so feet of storm surge. Coincidentally, there was a king tide event at the same time and the combined result was significant flooding on St. Armands and flood damage to many homes and businesses. Even the bottom level of the St. Armands Parking Garage was flooded, as well as 27 parking pay stations, per this City email. This may have been the worst flooding event on St. Armands in the 63 years since Hurricane Donna in 1960.
Not all of St. Armands Key drains by gravity alone: there are five pump stations connected to backup generators to help remove stormwater from some parts of the island. Unfortunately, the electrical control panels for the pump stations were surface mounted and got submerged by the floodwater, rendering them inoperable. Coincidentally, a car crashed into the control system for one of the pump stations the day before the storm (details). It is unknown to what extent, if any, operational pumps would have ameliorated the flooding.
The County sent out the following emergency update the day after the storm (Aug. 31 at 5pm):
Herald-Tribune article: NWS Hurricane Idalia report: Most damage in Sarasota and Manatee came from storm surge
ABC7 News article and video: Sarasota County reviewing improvements to emergency pump systems post Hurricane Idalia
The City of Sarasota has an Interlocal agreement with Sarasota County to maintain all storm water systems located in the City of Sarasota.
Report issues to Sarasota County by dialing 311, calling 941-861-500, or by using the County's "311 Connect" app. More information can be found here.
2023 Annual Member Survey
What property damage (building and/or landscaping) did you sustain from the recent flooding? (n=152)
2006 Stormwater Improvement Project
In 2006, a major stormwater improvement project was completed on St. Armands. A map of pump stations and baffle boxes, and a summary of the project details, can be viewed here.
At the November 7, 2023 Regular Meeting of the St. Armands Residents Association Board, the Sarasota County Director of Public Works, the City of Sarasota Director of Public Works, and the City Engineer were all present to answer questions about the flooding from Hurricane Idalia. The Sarasota County Director of Public Works gave this presentation.
Interactive Sarasota Stormwater Map
The County provides this online, interactive Sarasota Stormwater Map showing the location of storm drains, discharge pipes, and other elements of the stormwater management system. You can zoom in and out to find St. Armands, and then click on the "legend" and "layers" buttons (top right) to view or specify what gets shown on the map.
Note: There are some stormwater management features on the west side of St. Armands that are not incorporated in the interactive map which you can view here.
This mapping tool was used to help create the following illustration showing how stormwater gets removed from St. Armands Key:
Recent History of Flooding (or near-flooding) and other stormwater-related events on St. Armands:
Helpful Info & Links
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program has more information on king tides here.
In Sarasota, our typical high tides are in the 1.3-1.8' range, measured above the average water level, with our highest tides being up to 2.3' above that average water level. King tides in Sarasota, such as the one that coincided with Hurricane Idalia, can be around 2.8' (6 inches more than what is normally a very high tide). Apparently that extra six inches of water during a king tide event, when combined with three-or-so feet of storm surge on the dirty side of a hurricane, can lead to flooding on St. Armands.
Click here for a website that forecasts future tide heights.
The NOAA has published this webpage with an interactive graphic and other information about stormwater inundation and how tides, storm surge, and other factors combine to cause coastal flooding.
Role of St. Armands Circle Park
In this historical photo of St. Armands Circle (circa 1950s?), you can see that the Circle Park has always been open land. Per this May 2022 report by City Staff, the Circle Park serves an important stormwater management role.