Florida sinkholes: Sinkhole that swallowed Seffner man one of hundreds that have formed over eons

TAMPA - The Sunshine State is no stranger to sinkholes.  They can occur anywhere and at anytime.

That is best demonstrated with a satellite photo of Central Florida.

Just under the surface is a maze of "Swiss cheese-like" cavities and openings, with varying depths of surface ground above.

Over the eons, the soil collapses and fills with water.

Many of Florida's almost perfectly circular lakes were formed by sinkholes.  There are hundreds of them around the state.

One notable example is Kingsley Lake, an almost circular body of water measuring 2,000 acres in North Central Florida near Starke. It is so round that airplane pilots have dubbed it the "Silver Dollar Lake."

It's now lined with hundreds of docks and million dollar homes.

A U.S. Geological Survey highlights sinkhole activity in Florida and shows the distribution of the types of sinkholes.

Click here for a map of sinkhole-prone areas in Florida or follow this link:  http://bit.ly/XHFofe

Click here for a map of recorded sinkholes in Florida or follow this link: http://bit.ly/vfpAe6

Scroll down for an interactive map of Hillsborough properties that have problems with sinkholes.

Notably, the Brandon area is prone to the most sinkholes, called "cover collapse" sinkholes. They develop very quickly and are nearly impossible to predict.

One of the most famous sinkholes in Central Florida developed in 1981 in Winter Park near Orlando.

The sinkhole was first spotted by Mae Rose Owens when the ground began collapsing next to her home on West Comstock Avenue. Within a day or so, the sinkhole swallowed Owens' home, five Porsches at a car dealership and and a good chunk of the town's Olympic-sized swimming pool, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"It was the largest sinkhole event witnessed by man as a result of natural geological reasons or conditions," Jim Jammal, a Winter-Park-based geotechnical engineer told the Sentinel. "Yeah, it was one of a kind. There were thousands of people watching the thing."

The sinkhole was later named Lake Rose, for the woman who first saw it coming.

Sinkholes continue to make the news.  The latest is a tragedy involving a man who is presumed dead after a sinkhole opened under his bedroom in Seffner Thursday night. The depression is 30 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

Elsewhere, sinkholes have become more of an economic concern in recent years.  Insurance costs in some parts of the state have skyrocketed over the potential for sinkholes.

One thing is for sure, sinkholes aren't going away.

To learn more about sinkholes, click the video player above for a report from Bill Logan.


View Hillsborough County parcels with sinkhole issues in a full screen map

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