ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Could heavy rains be the cause behind more than a dozen holes that have opened recently in Pasco County?
At least four additional holes have developed in a Pasco County neighborhood Tuesday, bringing the total number to 20.
Emergency Management says all the holes are active and showing slight signs of growth.
No structures are in danger and the holes reportedly are not posing any threats to public safety.
More water in the ground could be the culprit. Tampa has already received more rain in 2019 than it typically does in an entire year – and it’s only August.
“Maybe just a little bit of water over time can create this very large pocket and an entire house can cave in just from that,” said Anthony Pelaez, Senior Director of Exhibits & Innovation at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry. “Whether it’s the limestone that’s in the middle, Florida has a lot of limestone, or that the water is taking out, basically we’re playing geological Jenga. So, little by little, we have our car that’s nice and safe, unaware of what’s taking place underneath, and little by little the support underground can give way finally to the point where we have a sinkhole.”
“When we get that large volume of rain that water-filled soil, or that saturated soil is rushing down to fill those cavities,” added Jim Olson, Director of Geology and Geophysics, Geohazards Engineering & Geology in Gainesville. “So, whenever there’s more rain, there’s more development of sinkhole activity on the surface.”
And according to Olson, the geology in Pasco County creates the perfect conditions for sinkholes form.
“I don’t have the statistics in front of me but, Pasco County has to be one of the leaders in the nation of any county with sinkhole development,” he said.
“We’ve seen sinkholes for thousands and thousands of years,” added Pelaez. “We’ll continue to see sinkholes in Florida for thousands more.”
It's been around a year since a massive sinkhole opened up in Land O' Lakes neighborhood, consuming a house and ultimately leaving eight homes uninhabitable.
The Land O’ Lakes sinkhole has been filled, but the vexing voids happen this time of year when conditions are right. Unfortunately, experts say the same conditions that contributed to the hole in Land O’ Lakes are leaving Tampa Bay vulnerable again.
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