Manatee River Flooding
June 20 - 22, 2003
After about a month of persistent heavy rainfall across Central Florida, rivers to west and southwest of Tampa Bay were ripe for substantial runoff. On June 20, a plume of tropical moisture began sinking southward toward the central Florida peninsula. This was coupled with a persistent area of divergence aloft. In the 48 hours ending the morning of June 22, up to a foot of rain fell in the Myakka Head and Myakka City areas just west of Sarasota.
The ensuing runoff created record flooding at four SERFC forecast points, including the length of the upper Manatee River. The initial record flooding took place at the Manatee River headwaters gauging site at Myakka Head, where the river rose to 20.85 ft. late on the evening of June 21. The following morning, the pool at Manatee Dam rose to a record 42.42 ft. Shortly thereafter the river below the dam at Rye Bridge reached 19.71 ft., representing the highest level since the dam was built and the second highest level ever. Horse Creek at Arcadia topped out at 18.02 ft. during the pre-dawn hours of June 23, while Myakka River at Myakka State Park peaked at 12.46 the morning of June 24.
Despite the massive flooding, no lives were lost. The flooding resulted in the evacuation of 2000 people, many of these downstream of Manatee Dam. During the afternoon of June 21, one gate became stuck, forcing the lake’s pool to its record levels. With the lake threatening to breach the emergency spillway, divers were dispatched to repair the gate underwater. County officials used reverse 911 to notify residents of the situation and to evacuate more than 500 homes. Once the gate was repaired, all gates were opened to relieve pressure off the top of the dam. This became the first time in the dam's history that all of the gates had been raised to their maximum release point.
Click a link below to view images related to the Manatee River Flooding and the SERFC