With Hurricane Frances, there likely aren't many people planning to fish or dive this weekend, except maybe in Key West or Pensacola. Storms that cross the peninsula of Florida from the Atlantic usually don't dirty the water too much offshore in the gulf, as do storms that arrive from the west. But Frances' size and slow forward speed could create an exception if it were to stall in the gulf.
Storm-driven waves, even at depth, can be powerful. The no-name storm in March 1993 broke open large wrecks such as the Mexican Pride, a barge in 130 feet, and the USCG buoy tender Blackthorn in 80 feet had its superstructure moved south about 75 yards. Hurricane Andrew moved large wrecks great distances in more than 150 feet when it hit the south Miami coastline.
Runoff from heavy rains surely will muddy near-shore waters, so it could be a while before things clear enough to dive in shallow water.
With our primary concerns on property damage, it could be a strong second blow for the diving industry to have the end of the season cut short by Frances across the state.
Chad Carney teaches free diving, scuba and spearfishing and runs charters out of St. Petersburg. Call 727 423-7775 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org