Environment

Courtesy of NOAA

Hurricane Ernesto is now fading away into interior Mexico after making landfall late yesterday on the Yucatan Peninsula. But what about our chances to see a big storm? Those odds are going up - at least for now.

The word from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is we could see as many as 17 named storms before hurricane season ends in November. That's up from their initial prediction of nine storms.

The Florida Legislature has essentially gutted Florida Forever, the state's main land-buying program, starving it of any money needed to buy new environmentally-sensitive land during the past three years. And with no end in sight to the state's budget woes, that likely won't change any time soon.

Still Cleaning Up After Debby

Aug 6, 2012

The good news is it looks like tropical storm Ernesto won't touch Florida.

The bad news is people in the Tampa Bay area are still working to recover from the damage done by tropical storm Debby in late June.

And The Federal Emergency Management Agency -- FEMA -- wants people to know that there's just under a month left to register for federal disaster assistance for Debby damage.

FEMA Public Information Officer Renee Bafalis encourages people to register even if they have insurance coverage:

The massive Gulf oil spill may be receding into our collective memory. But a group of people want to keep the specter of offshore oil drilling fresh in people's minds. So they plan to gather at Florida's beaches at noon Saturday.

This will be the third straight year "Hands Across the Sands" is taking place. People will gather hands on dozens of beaches to not only protest offshore drilling, but promote the use of clean energy.

The world's oceans used to be thought of as a limitless resource to be exploited. But the world's booming population and a huge increase in the number of fishing vessels has proved the ocean's bounty to be finite. A new solution to setting limits for individual fishermen has been developed. It's called catch-share. It basically sets a limit on the number of fish that can be taken for groups of fishermen - and those shares can be traded.

Specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be will be in Highlands, Hillsborough and Polk counties beginning Wednesday to provide information and advice on cleaning up and rebuilding homes after Tropical Storm Debby.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand to explain disaster-resistant ways to repair and rebuild damaged homes, offer suggestions on cleaning mold and mildew, and providing information on flood insurance.

Tropical Storm Debby survivors in Polk and Sarasota counties can now apply for federal disaster assistance.

Beach Advisory for Pinellas Beaches

Jul 18, 2012

The Pinellas County Health Department issued a saltwater beach advisory for five Pinellas beaches:

  • Sand Key Park, Clearwater
  • Honeymoon Island, Dunedin
  • Indian Rocks Beach (1700 Gulf Blvd)
  • Madeira Beach, Archibald Park
  • Redington Shores (182nd Avenue W.)

These five locations could be a potential health risk to swimmers because of enteric bacteria that can cause human disease, infections, or rashes.

The next water sampling is scheduled for July 30th.

The federal government today announced a major expansion of a project to protect the headwaters of the Everglades. It relies on landowners voluntarily protecting their land.

The announcement today sets aside $80 million for farmers and ranchers who voluntarily conserve wetlands around the Kissimmee River basin in Central Florida. It should protect about 23,000 acres of wetlands that feed into the "River of Grass."

Ikea

The furniture store known for saving you some green is itself a little greener.

This morning, the Swedish chain Ikea officially plugged in 4,956 solar panels on the roof of its Tampa store, for nearly 1.2 meagwatts of power.

That's the same as...

-  1.8 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually

- Eliminating 242 cars each year, or...

Courtesy of NBC 2

A Moore Haven teenager is lucky to be alive after he tried "something he saw on TV" to repel an attacking alligator and it didn't work.

Kaleb "Fred" Langdale is reportedly joking with his sister now that she "won't be the only leftie in the family." 

The 17-year-old was swimming in the Caloosahatchee River yesterday when a 10-foot alligator starting charging toward him in the water. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF

President Obama is set to sign a massive transportation bill Friday. It would keep the lion's share of money from a settlement with BP over the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf states. And a lot of that money could be coming to the Tampa Bay area.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson dropped by USF St. Petersburg today to tout the recently-passed RESTORE Act. While that means most of the money from any settlement will stay in the Gulf region, he says potentially tens of millions of dollars could flow to the Florida Institute of Oceanography.

El Niño Might Thwart Hurricane Season

Jul 5, 2012

Last month's Tropical Storm Debbie formed earlier than most big storms, and that had some people worried about this year's hurricane season. But El Niño may be coming to the rescue.

You've probably heard of El Niño. It's that weather phenomenon where parts of the Pacific Ocean warm up...and change the weather all across the United States.

Weather forecasters are saying El Niño may be forming out in the Pacific right now.

If that happens, Bay News 9's meteorologist Juli Marquez said, "it may prevent as many storms or hurricanes from forming or intensifying."

The bald eagle population is increasing in Florida, which continues to be one of the top spots in the lower 48 states for bald eagles to nest and raise their young.

That's the word from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  Based on its 2011 aerial survey, they estimate there are 1,457 active bald eagle nests in Florida, nearly a 9-percent increase since 2008, when the state implemented a bald eagle management plan. That's up from just 88 active nests in 1973.

Hernando County Neighborhood Swallowed by Sinkholes

Jun 27, 2012

"It's crazy. It's absolutely crazy."

Anthony DiGiorgi has lived in his Springhill home for 12 years. He says sinkholes have always been a concern, but Tropical Storm Debby has made things much worse.

"It looks like it's going to get worse. There's no doubt about it. I can see impressions in the road that weren't there before."

Tropical Storm Debby Causes Massive Beach Erosion

Jun 27, 2012
Jennifer Kopf

Tropical Storm Debby caused only about 3 feet of storm surge but that was propelled by high winds for more than 24 hours. That was enough for beach erosion.

And that could be bad for the tourism industry. According to Tampa Bay Times, lost beaches are lost business.

The beaches were part of Tampa's pitch to woo the Republican National Convention to town in August, as well as the longtime basis for the region's tourism industry.

Pasco County Residents Evacuated By Boat From Homes

Jun 26, 2012

A dozen residents of the Seven Springs Travel Park in Pasco County found themselves stranded in their homes this afternoon.

At least three feet of water covered the ground making it difficult for many of the elderly residents to wade through.

By boat, rescue workers with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Wildlife Commission took the residents to safety. 

TS Debby: Review Your Insurance Policies

Jun 26, 2012
Pamela Andrews

With all the flooding and damage done by Tropical Storm Debby, one consumer lawyer is advising folks to be prepared.... with their insurance policies.

Debby has caused flooding, power outages, and tornadoes that tore the roofs off homes. 

Consumer Lawyer Eric Seidel says a storm like Debby is the time to keep your insurance policies close at hand. If you do experience some damage, he says contact both home owners and flooding insurers if you have them. 

Sarah Curran

Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby has spawned sinkholes in Hernando County, tornadoes in Polk and Pinellas and a deadly twister in Highlands that stole a mother from her toddler.

Now it's forcing people in Pasco County out of their homes because of flooding. 

Pasco County authorities have an emergency evacuation underway in parts of New Port Richey. 

Debby is doing a number on folks along the Gulf Coast from Alabama to northern Florida.

The tropical storm, which has been lashing the region since the weekend, could dump another 2 feet of rain by the end of the week, forecasters warn. Residents are being warned to also watch out for tornadoes, flash floods and sinkholes.

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