Storms continue to about 8 p.m., then sunshine for weekend

Update 4:42 p.m.: The National Weather Service expects the storms spread across Palm Beach County to last through at least 8 p.m. before tapering off.

The cold front pushing the storms is forecast to move into the Florida Straits overnight, with drier air filtering in behind.

Mostly clear skies are forecast for Saturday and Sunday with highs in the mid 80s.

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

Update 4:24 p.m.: Strong thunderstorms in northwestern Palm Beach County have triggered a significant weather advisory for areas including Palm Beach Gardens, Pahokee, Canal Point, The Acreage and Jupiter Farms.

The advisory is in effect until 5 p.m.

The severe thunderstorm warning for northeastern Palm Beach County has been canceled.

Earlier today, a tornado warning was issued for areas in northeast Broward County and southeast Palm Beach County.

The National Weather Service says a trained weather spotter saw a tornado, but it is a preliminary report that has not been confirmed.

Update 4:09 p.m.: A thunderstorm warning is in effect until 4:45 p.m. for northeastern Palm Beach County.

Forecasters are watching a thunderstorm over Loxahatchee Groves near Wellington that is moving northeast at 10 mph. Cities affected are Wellington, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Riviera Beach and Palm Beach.

Concerns include winds up to 60 mph, small hail and lightning.

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

Update 3:50 p.m.: A significant weather advisory has been issued for central and northeastern Palm Beach County, including Wellington, West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach and Lake Park.

The advisory is in effect through 4:30.

Small hail, funnel clouds and winds in excess of 45 mph are possible with thunderstorms moving northeast.

 

Update 3:30 p.m.: A large area of storms is over Palm Beach County approaching the coast with showers expected from Boca Raton to Jupiter.

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

The National Weather Service says there is a preliminary report of a tornado touching down in the Coral Springs and Margate area of Broward County earlier today. The tornado was reported by an NWS-trained spotter, but has not been confirmed by meteorologists.

National Weather Service meteorologists believe the worst of the storms will be finished just after 8 p.m.

A marine warning is in effect until 4:15 p.m. for coastal waters from Jupiter Inlet to Deerfield Beach.

At 3:44 p.m., severe thunderstorms capable of producing waterspouts were located along a line extending from near Palm Beach Shores to Deerfield Beach moving northeast at 17 mph.

Update 3:15 p.m.: The afternoon storms are approaching the western communities of Palm Beach County as the sea breeze interacts with west winds ahead of a cold front.

Forecasters said some severe storms are possible this afternoon into evening with hail, gusty winds and a small chance of isolated tornadoes.

A severe thunderstorm warning for southeastern Palm Beach County will expire at 3:30 p.m.

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

Update 2:57 p.m.: A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for southeastern Palm Beach County including Boca Raton and Delray Beach.

The tornado warning has been canceled. The thunderstorm warning is in effect through 3:30 p.m.

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

The thunderstorm was located over Coconut Creek moving east at 10 mph.

Concerns include 60 mph wind gusts, hail and lightning.

More thunderstorms are expected this afternoon into early evening as a cold front approaches South Florida.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Miami said the atmosphere is primed for more severe storms, and there is a chance of isolated tornadoes.

The front should move into the Florida Straits overnight.

Update 2:40 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for southeastern Palm Beach County.

The warning is in effect until 3:15 p.m. A tornado warning means a tornado was spotted on radar or on the ground.

Forecasters said the tornado was over Parkland moving east at 10 mph, which puts areas of Boca Raton in its potential path.

Forecasters in Miami are saying radar is showing rotation as westerly winds interact with South Florida’s sea breeze.

The Storm Prediction Center had increased South Florida’s risk level for severe weather to marginal earlier today.

Update 1:50 p.m.: The risk for severe weather this afternoon in South Florida has been escalated to “marginal” by the Storm Prediction Center.

The marginal level is the lowest on a five-tier scale.

Forecasters said they increased the risk level because of higher moisture levels measured in the upper atmosphere by the National Weather Service office in Key West. That moisture will likely spread northeast, creating the possibility for a few strong storms capable of marginally severe hail and locally damaging winds.

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

Scattered thunderstorms are forecast to develop late afternoon into early evening over the east coast metro areas of South Florida.

Some of the storms could be strong with winds gusting to 45 mph and small hail.

“Can’t rule out the possibility of one or two storms becoming severe, more likely due to wind rather than hail,” Miami meteorologists wrote in an afternoon discussion. “Tornado risk appears to be none to very low, but always need to watch sea breeze and boundary collisions.”

Previous story: A cold front approaching South Florida today puts thunderstorms and lightning in the afternoon forecast, before a weekend return to mostly clear skies.

The front is attached to a low pressure system moving off the northeast coast today. It increases rain chances to 50 percent this afternoon, and National Weather Service forecasters are warning of some strong thunderstorms with the possibility of lightning, small hail and gusty winds.

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

Forecast location of cool front at 8 p.m. tonight.

Miaimi meteorologists said the focus of the showers will be along the east coast with southwest winds from the front pushing against an afternoon sea breeze.

The front is expected to move into the Florida Straits overnight with high pressure nudging in behind.

Related: Top 5 lightning strike myths and how to stay safe in a storm. 

That means drier air and clear skies for the weekend, but not cooler temperatures.

Daytime highs will remain seasonably normal for this time of year in the low to mid 80s, with overnight lows hovering around 70.

The rain is still needed in South Florida with Thursday’s drought monitor report extending areas of severe drought into Collier and Lee counties.

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Palm Beach County continues to have moderate drought in the western areas and near Lake Okeechobee, while the drought has modified to “abnormally dry” along the coast.

Drought monitor report released April, 26 2018.

While the threat of rip currents should remain low along both coasts this weekend, Collier County beaches are under a hazard alert for possible respiratory problems relating to red tide.

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Showers possible through overnight before drier air, sunshine

UPDATE 5:15 p.m.: Showers are forecast to last through the overnight hours with severe thunderstorm chances reducing after dark.

The storms are ahead of a cool front that should move into the Florida Straits early Wednesday.

Behind the front, drier air and sunshine should filter in and remain through Friday with high temperatures near seasonal norms of 80-degrees.

Hail was reported with today’s storms from the Treasure Coast through Lantana.

The following video was taken by Tom Knapp near the Jupiter Inlet of small hail.

Knapp also got this image of a tree smoking following a lightning strike.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: The drive home may be tricky tonight with showers and thunderstorms still affecting coastal and central areas of Palm Beach County.

Reports of hail from Jupiter to Lantana have been made with these storms.

About 700 FPL customers are without power, including a clutch of 62 homes near Atlantis where a trained weather spotter said pea and dime-size hail fell earlier today.

 

A trained NWS spotter said this is where dime-size hail fell at about 3:45 p.m.
People flee the beach as rain starts to fall in Palm Beach, Florida, April 24, 2018. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 3:53 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Miami is reporting that dime- and pea-size hail is falling near JFK Medical Center in Atlantis.

Related: How hail forms

UPDATE 3:25 p.m.: A significant weather advisory has been issued for areas from West Palm Beach through Jupiter.

Small hail and winds up to 45 mph are possible with thunderstorms near Lion Country Safari that are moving east at 10 mph.

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.: A special marine warning has been issued for coastal waters from Jupiter inlet to Deerfield Beach as storms affect North Palm Beach County.

The warning is in effect until 4 p.m.

Forecasters are warning that the storms could produce waterspouts, hail and strong wind gusts.

UPDATE 2:55 p.m.: The worst of the storms this afternoon have so far focused north of Palm Beach County, with hail reported in Hobe Sound and a tornado warning near Indiantown.

Previous story: The threat for severe weather this afternoon was increased for Palm Beach County with thunderstorms already developing along an approaching cold front.

A marginal risk of severe weather with a high potential for lightning, and low chances of damaging wind gusts and hail was issued by the Storm Prediction Center.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Miami said an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.

Previous story: The dawdling low pressure system that has increased moisture and heat in South Florida the past several days continues to meander across the Tennessee Valley this morning, but a trailing cold front should reach Palm Beach County today.

The front is forecast to hit South Florida just after midday, increasing the chances of rain to 70 percent with its arrival. The front should clear the Peninsula and move into the Florida Straits overnight.

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

This shows the forecast location of the front at 2 p.m. today.

Thunderstorms are again possible with temperatures aloft remaining cool, while daytime heating is expected to reach upper 80s at the coast and possible 90s inland.

The difference in temperatures between surface and higher in the atmosphere contributes to how robust the storm will be. Larger temperature differences mean stronger storms as heated air rises more quickly to clash with cooler temperatures aloft.

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said the biggest threats with today’s storms will be lightning and heavy rain.

“Though strong wind gusts, hail and potential for waterspouts or landspouts can’t be ruled out,” forecasters said.

Drier air should move in behind the front.

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GOES-16 satellite imagery valid as of 8:17 a.m.

While daytime highs are expected to cool seasonal normals, overnight lows will drop by several degrees from what South Florida has been experiencing.

This morning’s preliminary low at Palm Beach International Airport was 73 degrees. That’s six degrees above normal for this time of year.

The normal daytime high is 83 degrees.

Rain totals through Friday could add another inch to portions of coastal Palm Beach County. Much of the county is running a 4-inch rain deficit for the year.

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UPDATE: 61-mph wind gust recorded on Marco Island

Update 9:05 p.m.: Most of the active weather has been concentrated over coastal Collier County, Lake Okeechobee and northern Palm Beach County.

NWS meteorologists said the storminess should gradually diminish before midnight.

Update 8:27 p.m.: A wind gust of 61 mph was recorded on Marco Island. The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning with a possible tornado for an area south of Naples.

The warning in in effect until 8:45 p.m.

Update 8:10 p.m.: Some storms are moving into northern Palm Beach County that forecasters have identified as possibly severe.

A thunderstorm warning will expire at 8:15 p.m. for a region in north central Palm Beach County.

At 7:30 p.m., a thunderstorm wind gust of 49 mph was recorded over Lake Okeechobee, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

See current live radar here.

Radar image 8:09 p.m.

Previous story: A storm system that sent tornadoes charging through Alabama overnight is hitting Florida today, bringing the potential for severe thunderstorms to Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast near sunset to late evening.

Already, Central Florida is getting pelted with hail and fielding multiple thunderstorm and tornado warnings.

Hail in Oviedo Tuesday afternoon from cold front. March 20, 2018. Photo by Karen Quesenbury

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has nearly all of Palm Beach and Martin counties under a marginal threat of severe weather today. St. Lucie County is under the more elevated “slight risk” of severe weather. Areas from Melbourne through Jacksonville are at an “enhanced” risk of severe weather – the third level on the center’s 5-tier threat scale.

SEE: Check The Palm Beach Post radar map

The biggest weather threats for Palm Beach County will be strong wind gusts, however large hail and tornadoes can’t be ruled out especially if the front arrives slightly earlier than expected, harnessing the heat of the day for more energy.

“There is a strong upper-level jet stream hitting Florida so any intense storms will bring some of those wind gusts to the surface,” said Matt Volkmer, a meteorologist with the NWS in Melbourne. “We’re thinking there is a bigger concern for straight line winds, but there is a low chance of a tornado or two.”

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Ahead of the storminess will be near-record heat, including in West Palm Beach where the temperature is forecast to reach 91 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

That’s 12 degrees above normal. The record high in West Palm Beach for March 20 is 92 degrees set in 1965.

The last time it reached 90 degrees in West Palm Beach was Sept. 26.

The high temperatures are partly a function of the counter clockwise turn of the low pressure system expected to push into the Atlantic near the North Carolina coast today. The cyclonic spin of the system drags tropical southwest winds through the state. In Palm Beach County, they travel over a larger fetch of solar-heated land throughout the day, amping up the heat.

Today is the first day of astronomical spring, but it won’t seem like it in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, where snow and possible coastal flooding as an area of low pressure moves off the coast near the Outer Banks of North Carolina and begins a trek north. Gale-force wind watches and warnings paint the coast from North Carolina through Maine, with a storm warning and coastal flood watch in New Jersey.

National Weather Service meteorologists said today’s storm will be the first of two “back-to-back nor’easters” that will hit this week. If that forecast holds true, it will mark five winter storms to menace the Northeast this month.

Location of the low pressure system and cold front as of 2 p.m.

South Florida has experienced see-sawing temperatures with those winter storms as trailing cold fronts raked through the area. The low this month in West Palm Beach was 45 degrees on Thursday – 17 degrees below normal. Monday’s high was 86 degrees, which was 8 degrees above normal.

“March is not an atypical month at all to have plenty of cold fronts move through South Florida,” said Andrew Hagen, a NWS meteorologist in Miami. “There were barely any in February so we’re just not used to it.”

High temperatures behind today’s front will dive into the mid to high 70s Wednesday, but struggle to reach 70 Thursday and Friday. Overnight lows dip to the low 50s Wednesday and Thursday.

In addition to 10 reports of tornadoes in Alabama on Monday were 75 reports of high wind across  northern Alabama into Georgia.

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Near record heat, possible severe storms, then big cool down

Near record heat will hit South Florida this week with the potential for severe weather before a cool down dumps daytime temperatures into the low 70s by the end of the week.

A low pressure system that is forecast to bring snow to the mid-Atlantic this week will also trail a stormy cold front that could bring severe thunderstorms into Florida, including Palm beach County.

Tuesday’s forecast from the Storm Prediction Center includes a marginal risk of severe weather for the northern half of Palm Beach County, escalating to a slight risk near Melbourne and an enhanced risk from about Orlando through North Florida.

Tuesday, March 19 , 2018 forecast for severe weather from the Storm Prediction Center

But Tuesday is also expected to bring near record heat ahead of the front to South Florida where it could reach 88 degrees in West Palm Beach – four degrees short of the 1965 record for March 20 of 92 degrees.

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The storminess is expected late Tuesday into early Wednesday.

“It will bear watching as this event could produce strong winds and tornadic activity over portions of the state on Tuesday evening, Tuesday night, and early Wednesday morning,” wrote National Weather Service forecasters in Miami.

Tuesday potential impacts for severe weather.

But as the front leaves the state Wednesday, another push of cool and dry air will move into South Florida, leaving Palm Beach County with clear skies and below normal temperatures toward the end of the week.

SEE: Check The Palm Beach Post radar map

Highs on Thursday and Friday will only reach into the low 70s near the coast with overnight temperatures in the low 50s. Inland areas could see lows dip into the 40s overnight.

That’s significantly different than what’s normal for this time of year when daytime highs are typically 79 degrees and overnight lows are 63 degrees.

 It seems in line, however, with the roller coaster of temperature changes South Florida has experienced this month with the train of powerful winter storms rolling through the northeast.

Weather.com is calling a nor’easter “likely” beginning Tuesday. It is the fourth to hit this month with more snow, rain and possible coastal flooding for areas from Virginia to Maine.

“It will not feel like the first days of spring to those in the mid-Atlantic and New England, where a snow event is expected to unfold spanning Tuesday through Wednesday,” wrote AccuWeather meteorologist Faith Eherts.

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35-degree temperature swing for weekend, ‘very high’ fire danger

The first signs that South Florida’s dry spell has turned more serious appeared Thursday with a spreading puddle of brown on the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly report.

A pinch of land in southwest Palm Beach County stretching through Broward and Miami-Dade, was tagged for being in “moderate drought,” up from the abnormally dry conditions spotted earlier this month.

Brief showers from Monday’s quick-moving cold front did little to ease a lack of rainfall that has affected areas from the Kissimmee Basin north of Lake Okeechobee to the Florida Keys.

And while a change in weather will come with a 35-degree temperature swing from Thursday’s low of 45 degrees to Sunday’s high of 80, there’s almost no chance of rain until at least the middle of next week, according to the National Weather Service.

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“I think it’s something we watch carefully at this point,” said Randy Smith, spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District. “Any time of year, but especially now, it’s important to remember conservation efforts.”

In the district’s 16-county region, the average dry-season rainfall has been about 5 inches, that’s a deficit of 4.4 inches or half of what’s normal for November through mid-March.

Coastal Palm Beach County has received 9 inches of rain this dry season, about 68 percent of normal, while areas near Lake Okeechobee are just 50 percent of normal for rainfall.

“We have more dry season to go, and 100 percent of the system is rainfall driven, that’s the only way we replenish it,” Smith said.

The dry season typically lasts into mid-to-late May.

SEE: Check The Palm Beach Post radar map

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, 17 percent of Florida is suffering moderate drought  — the second tier on a 5-level scale. That’s up from 9 percent the previous week.

About 42 percent of the state is considered below drought level, but abnormally dry, including most of Palm Beach County.

Robert Molleda, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Miami, said a cold front forecast to sweep through the state Tuesday may bring some rain. But even then, the chances are low.

The long-term forecast is similarly parched. The Climate Prediction Center has Florida with a 60 percent chance of above normal temperatures through May, and up to a 50 percent chance of below normal rainfall.

“We’re not as dry as we were at this point last year, but we’re still pretty early in what we consider the peak of the wildfire season,” Molleda said. “March, April and May is when we are most concerned about wildfires.”

On Thursday, about 50 wildfires burned statewide, with none in Palm Beach County and only two on the Treasure Coast.

Still, Palm Beach County was listed at a “very high” level on the Florida Forest Service’s Fire Danger Index. Martin County was listed at the highest level of “extreme.”

While the drier-than-normal conditions may mean brown lawns, it is good news for Lake Okeechobee. The lake, which was 14.41 feet above sea level Thursday, had enough area exposed by lower water levels to allow for mats of dead vegetation to be burned off.

The decomposing vegetation settles to the bottom of the lake. It steals oxygen from the water, makes it harder for ducks to find food, and obscures sandy spawning areas for fish. The burns are typically conducted by teams from the South Florida Water Management District, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Corps and Florida Forest Service.

“It’s a big deal that they returned to burning,” said Audubon Florida scientist and Lake Okeechobee expert Paul Gray. “People think about controlled burns for upland areas, but our wetlands can benefit from them also.”

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Cold front, rough seas, then ‘postcard’ South Florida winter days

A cold front is forecast to move through South Florida on Wednesday as the second winter storm this month whacks the Northeast.

But following Wednesday’s showers and possible thunderstorms are “postcard South Florida dry season days,” according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

SEE: Check The Palm Beach Post radar map

GOES-16 satellite image of winter storm headed to the Northeast with cold front for South Florida.

The drier, cooler air behind Wednesday’s front means temperatures Thursday will struggle to reach 70 degrees in Palm Beach County, with overnight lows in the 50s at the coast and 40s inland.

Friday highs may not reach 70 degrees, but could be slightly milder at night in the high 50s at the coast and low 50s inland.

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“As the front moves out late Wednesday into Thursday, drier air will push back over the region,” NWS forecasters wrote in a morning discussion. “Not only will temperatures remain closer to seasonal averages (i.e. cooler than February, not summer-like) but clearing skies will also  make for some postcard South Florida dry season days.”

Winds will switch out of the west behind the front, but remain calm at up to 11 mph Wednesday, reducing to 10 mph Thursday.

That doesn’t mean marine and beach threats will abate.

Lifeguards closed the beach in Lake Worth on Monday as high surf washed up to the dune line.

Waves at the beach are forecast to be in the 10-foot range today, and remain up to 8 feet on Wednesday and Thursday. A high risk of rip currents is in effect through Friday.

On Monday, lifeguards from Lake Worth to Jupiter were warning people not to go in the water, and to be careful even on the beach. In Lake Worth, lifeguards strung yellow caution tape blocking entrances during high tide for fear people would get washed away by the big surf.

“We just want to make sure no one does anything foolish,” said Mathew Botts, chief of Lake Worth Ocean Rescue. “We don’t want people getting swept out to sea because they were taking a selfie and a wave gets them.”

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Weather service cuts planned following year of record storms

The National Weather Service wants to cut hundreds of forecasting jobs on the heels of a year when weather disasters strafed the nation costing $306 billion in losses and stealing more than 360 lives.

The cuts, outlined in the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget, are part of an effort to streamline the 148-year-old agency and end the costly, yet venerated, practice of operating all weather forecasting offices 24-hours-a-day, year-round.

Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose all spun simultaneously in September 2017.

Of 355 weather service positions that would be lost nationwide through attrition, 248 are meteorologists making local forecasts, issuing severe weather alerts and launching twice-daily weather balloons to gather critical data from a layered atmosphere.

Florida has six of the nation’s 122 weather forecasting offices in Key West, Miami, Melbourne, Jacksonville, Tampa and Tallahassee.

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Dan Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, expects one or more of Florida’s offices to be open fewer hours and with less employees — a move he said puts lives at risk in a state with multiple weather torments.

In just 2017, the Sunshine State was beset by tornadoes, drought, wildfires, floods, a March freeze, Tropical Storm Emily, the remnants of Philippe, a Cat 4 hurricane and deadly summertime thunderstorms.

Flagler Drive is raked by wind, rain and water from the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach Sunday afternoon, September 10, 2017 as winds from Hurricane Irma rake the county. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

“We are very close to our breaking point right now and if you cut hundreds more positions, we can’t do it,” said Sobien, a former meteorologist in Tampa’s NWS office. “The mission of the National Weather Service is to save lives. This budget would jeopardize that.”

Also on the chopping block…Read the full story to find out what else is at stake and how it may affect your forecast at MyPalmBeachPost.com.

Everglades native retreats as sea levels rise faster than restoration, study says

 

A saltwater poison is threatening prairies of toothy sawgrass on the edges of the Everglades as sea levels rise with a warming planet.

The iconic fauna of Florida’s river of grass once thrived in a nourishing overflow from Lake Okeechobee, and is included in restoration efforts to undo some of man’s meddling in the state’s natural plumbing system.

But the multi-billion dollar plan didn’t consider the impacts of sea level rise, a problem revealed in a new study by Florida International University scientists who say rising oceans are outpacing restoration.

SEE: Check The Palm Beach Post radar map

“I’ve been using the phrase that we need to fight water with water, and that’s what we try and argue, that we need more freshwater to combat the saltwater,” said Rene Price, chairwoman of FIU’s Department of Earth and Environment and a co-author of the study. “Everyone knows sea levels are rising, but we wanted to see how water managers were combating it.”

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In 2000, Congress approved the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP. The approximately $13 billion project is trying to find the “right quantity, quality, timing and distribution” of freshwater that will most closely mimic Mother Nature.

According to the South Florida Natural Resources Center, more than 650 billion gallons of water per year once flowed south into Everglades National Park across what is now Tamiami Trail. The 100-mile road from Miami to the Gulf of Mexico is a barrier for water reaching the park and eventually Florida Bay.

Currently, center Director Robert Johnson said about…Read the full story about how humans tried to kill the Everglades, and the challenge now to save it in MyPalmBeachPost.com. 

Sawgrass is native to the Everglades ecosystem. Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Post

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Pythons are coming! Palm Beach County refuge mounts a defense

There’s no question they are coming with ill intent, southern assailants slithering toward the last remnant of the northern Everglades where freshwater veins lead to an unspoiled buffet.

The invasive Burmese python, which infests Everglades National Park, has yet to be seen inside the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge west of Boynton Beach.

RELATED: The Prince of Darkness goes on a python hunt. 

 

Duane “Caveman” Clark catches a ten-foot python during the Python Challenge in the Everglades Wildlife Management Area, on February 9, 2016. (Daniel Owen / The Palm Beach Post)

Without fortification, it’s just a matter of time before the voracious eaters enter the 141,000-acre refuge as conquering parasites, but defenses are being mounted, including a unique python trap that refuge caretakers hope will help with early detection and mitigation.

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“Unfortunately, at this moment there are not a lot of control methods — or any effective control methods — for the python,” said Rebekah Gibble, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service senior wildlife biologist at the refuge. “We have people working feverishly to develop other methods of control so we don’t get as bad as Everglades National Park.”

Related: Pythons ran amok in the Everglades until these guys showed up

USDA is testing a live snake trap at the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge that utilizes two trip pans for the humane capture of larger, heavier snakes, such as the invasive Burmese python. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post) 

In 2016, a 10-foot-long python was found on a levee near the southeast side of the refuge, and there have been sightings in parking lots adjacent to the refuge, Gibble said. 

The USDA is testing a live snake trap at the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge that utilizes two trip pans for the humane capture of larger, heavier snakes, such as the invasive Burmese python. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Water samples taken from the refuge have also tested positive for python DNA, but the water may have flowed into the refuge from other areas.

WATCH: Epic battle between python and alligator caught on video.

“I think it’s inevitable that this area will get inundated with pythons so we want to do anything we can to control the invasion,” said Andrew Eastwick, a wildlife biologist at the refuge. “But we want to make sure that what we do doesn’t do more harm than good.”

They are hoping this 5-foot-long trap…Read more about how the innovative trap works in the full story on MyPalmBeachPost.com. 

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Water plan discriminates against Miccosukee, tribe says

An ambitious project to protect Treasure Coast waterways from rashes of damaging algae reached its first benchmark last week, meeting a deadline as tight as a gator’s bite, but now faces critics who decry it as shortsighted and discriminatory against the Miccosukee Indian Tribe.

The billion-dollar plan, slated for state-owned land in western Palm Beach County, includes sending Lake Okeechobee overflow into an above-ground bowl formed by berms up to 37-feet high to reduce freshwater discharges into the brackish ecosystems of the St. Lucie Estuary.

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It is also touted as a partial answer to environmentalists’ refrain to send the water south into the greater Everglades — the natural path before man scarred Florida’s revered River of Grass with canals, roads and homes cut into marshland.

That watershed feeds into the lands of the Miccosukee, who fear receiving harmful nutrient-laden water tainted by agriculture north of the lake.

Water full of algae laps along the Sewell’s Point shore on the St. Lucie River under an Ocean Boulevard bridge on June 27, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The tribe sent a letter to South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Ernie Marks the same day the district’s proposal was due to state lawmakers saying the plan — mandated by legislation passed in 2017 — discriminates against the Miccosukee in favor of the Treasure Coast.

“Clearly, the purpose of the legislation is to reduce the high volume of polluted water from being discharged into the northern estuaries,” wrote Billy Cypress, tribe chairman. “While we do advocate for ‘shared adversity,’ it seems time after time, the only adversity is that which is imposed on Tribal lands.”

Marks is scheduled to present the plan to lawmakers Thursday during the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The reservoir was pushed… Read the full story at MyPalmBeachPost.com and find out why the plan could cost taxpayers as much as $1.7 billion. 

Groups representing Guardian of the Glades and #OurLivesMatterToo listen to presentations on a reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee that is meant to keep damaging lake water out of the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. The meeting was held at South Florida Water Management District headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida on December 21, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

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