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Environment

New NOAA Tool Predicts Red Tide Impacts For Beachgoers Along Florida's West Coast

Map shows red tide impacts along Florida's west coast
Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System
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A new tool, developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, predicts red tide impacts in three-hour increments.

The map shows predicted red tide affects along Florida's west coast in three-hour increments, based on wind speed and direction.

Those with respiratory problems who may be vulnerable to the affects of red tide can now see how they might be impacted before heading out to the beaches along Florida's west coast.

A new tool, developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "provides a near real-time prediction of whether beachgoers can expect red tide conditions on individual beaches at three-hour increments throughout the day," according to a press release.

The Red Tide Respiratory Forecast plots points at beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and predicts the red tide risks based on wind speed and direction for more than 24 hours out.

On the map, just hover over the location and click the point. It will show whether the affects are low or, if unfavorable wind conditions are present, are high and could pose a risk for those with respiratory issues.

“Red tide impacts can be really variable because of wind patterns,” Barbara Kirkpatrick, executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System and an environmental health scientist, said in the release.

"There are very few days when all beaches will be affected by red tide, and often your favorite beach is only affected for part of the day."

Karenia brevis, the algae that causes red tide, can produce respiratory irritations including coughing, sneezing, teary eyes and an itchy throat.

Those with chronic lung problems can experience more severe symptoms.

“This forecast is the first step toward reducing the health and economic impacts of red tides for coastal communities," said Richard Stumpf, an oceanographer who led the development of the forecast. "By letting people know where and when onshore respiratory impacts are expected, red tide becomes more of an inconvenience than a crisis.”

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