Money for South Florida flood control shorted, report says

The budget for repairing South Florida’s aging flood control structures is short tens of millions of dollars each year, potentially putting homes at risk during extreme rainfall, according to an inspector general’s report.

A year-long review of the South Florida Water Management District’s operations and maintenance program found the annual allotment set aside for repairs to levees, canals and water control structures should be about $88.5 million, while the actual budget averages only $53 million.

STORMS: The Palm Beach Post’s hurricane page has everything you need to know about the upcoming season.

District officials agree the repair budget needs to be bolstered, but not by as much as what is indicated in the report, which they say is based on a facilities survey conducted three years ago that is outdated.

“That particular number of $88.5 million is based on old information,” said John Mitnik, chief engineer for the South Florida Water Management District. “I try and avoid giving a specific number because the idea is you need to continue to add funding to the program each year over the next several years.”

RELATED: Could Hurricane Harvey flooding happen in Palm Beach County?

A message left at the inspector general’s office was not returned Friday.

The report’s findings were to be presented Thursday during a meeting of the district’s influential Water Resources Analysis Coalition, or WRAC, at the request of the coalition’s chairman.

But in a surprise speech handwritten on a yellow legal pad, Jim Moran said his request was overruled and the item yanked from the public meeting. Moran, of Boynton Beach, then promptly resigned as chairman — a post he had held for four years.

South Florida Water Management District board member Jim Moran resigned as chairman of the Water Resources Analysis Coalition on Thursday after complaining an agenda item he had requested was removed from discussion. His speech and resignation announcement were hand written on legal pad paper. (Palm Beach Post)

The 56-page audit, which is a public record, was presented during an April meeting of the district’s Audit and Finance Committee, where officials were given a chance to respond to 13 recommendations in the report.

It will be reviewed by the full governing board at its Thursday meeting.

RELATED: This man knew rains could be deadly…and he was right.

While the district agreed with several of the recommendations…READ the full story at MyPalmBeachPost.com and find out more about the shakeup in leadership of one of the most powerful organizations in South Florida. 

Water flows over the spillway at the Saint Lucie Lock and Dam in Martin County on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. The Army Corps of Engineers structure was built for flood and flow control through the St. Lucie Canal and management of the water level in Lake Okeechobee. Water levels in Lake Okeechobee are at the highest levels in recent years. (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)

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BREAKING: Hurricane center issues special forecast for system near Bahamas

The National Hurricane Center has issued a special tropical weather forecast for an area of low pressure near the Bahamas, but is giving it no chance of development.

The forecast says the system will move westward over Florida tomorrow with locally heavy rains and gusty winds for portions of the Bahamas and South Florida.

Chances for development are zero for both the 48-hour and 5-day time periods.

Hurricane experts have been watching the system carefully for development. If it formed up, it would be the first tropical system of the 2018 hurricane season and be named Alberto.

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If Alberto did form, it would follow a 3-year trend of tropical systems that formed before the official June 1 start date of hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Arlene formed in April 2017. In 2016, Hurricane Alex formed in January, followed by Tropical Storm Bonnie spinning up in May. Tropical Storm Ana formed in May 2015.

Storms that form early in the year outside of the deep tropics are not a foreshadowing to a busier hurricane season.

In 2012, two tropical storms occurred in May — Alberto and Beryl. That turned out to be a busy year with 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes. But in 2015 Tropical Storm Ana formed in May, and there were just 11 named storms and four hurricanes.

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GOES-16 satellite image of an upper-level low pressure system near the Bahamas.

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BREAKING: Say goodbye to four hurricane names from 2017 season

Four hurricane names have been retired from the devastating 2017 hurricane season, the most since 2005 when five names were banished from the list.

The World Meteorological Organization takes  names off the 6-year rotating list when they have done extensive damage, and would be insensitive to use again. The organization is meeting in Martinique this week.

BREAKING: Above average season forecast for 2018

The 2017 names that will be forever banned from the list include Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate.

Including these four additions, there have been 86 names retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1954, when storms began to be named.

Replacing those names will be Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel. They will appear for the first time in the 2023 list of storm names.

Hurricane Irma was slowed down to a low-end Category 4 hurricane by its rub against Cuba before a Sept. 10 landfall.

Tropical cyclones get monikers based on their basin and names that are familiar in the region. There is a six-year rotating list, with 2018’s names a repeat of 2012.

Hurricane names are selected by the World Meteorological Organization and are usually common names associated with the ethnicity of the basin that would be affected by the storms.

“For example, in the Atlantic basin, the majority of storms have English names, but there are also a number of Hispanic-origin names as well as a few French names,” said National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen during an interview about 2015’s Hurricane Henri. “For the eastern North Pacific basin, the majority of names are of Hispanic origin, as the impacted countries are Mexico, Guatemala, and other nations of Central America.”

Everything you need to know about the hurricane season is on The Palm Beach Post’s Storm 2018 page. 

There are six lists in rotation, which are maintained and updated by the WMO.

There will never be another Hurricane Andrew, after the devastating 1992 Category 5 storm.

Florida City: Gary Davis cradles his chihuahua Boo Boo in front of his mobile home in the Goldcoaster Mobile Home Park the morning after Hurricane Andrew hit overnight in 1992. After his home disintegrated around him, Davis spent the rest of the night in his truck . (Photo by Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

The 2004 and 2005 seasons saw a whole slew of names retired from the list including, Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma.

Hurricane Joaquin is also off the list.  Hurricanes Matthew and Otto were replaced with Martin and Owen after the 2016 season.

Hurricane season runs June 1 through the end of November.

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Names for the 2018 hurricane season include the following:

 

BREAKING: Above normal hurricane season forecast

A leading hurricane forecast is calling for a slightly above average storm season with 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

The prediction from Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project was released this morning at the National Tropical Weather Conference in San Antonio.

Colorado State University 2018 hurricane season forecast

It follows at least two other forecasts made this month calling for a near average to above average hurricane season.

RELATED: Will a hurricane be named after you this season? 2018 names are here.

An average season has 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

RELATED: 2017 hurricane season brutal, deadly

The hyperactive 2017 hurricane season had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes.

The federal Climate Prediction Center will release its hurricane forecast in late May.

Everything you need to know about the hurricane season is on The Palm Beach Post’s Storm 2018 page. 

CSU’s April forecast is a much-anticipated annual event because it’s typically one of the first forecasts of the year and is possibly the longest running. It was started in 1984 by William Gray, who passed away in 2016.

Hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, who was mentored by Gray, is now the lead author of the report.

Klotzbach said the forecast was largely based on a prediction that El Niño will not appear this summer or fall, with the atmosphere instead transitioning to neutral from a current weak La Niña event.

LIVE RADAR: Check The Palm Beach Post’s radar map

The CSU forecast also considers the probability of hurricanes making landfall. According to today’s prediction, there is a 72 percent chance that a named storm will hit an area that includes Florida’s coastline and the east coast. The average is 61 percent.

The probability of a major hurricane – Category 3-5 – will hit the same region is 39 percent, compared to an average of 31 percent.

“We anticipate a slightly above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean,” the CSU forecast notes.

RELATED: Ten things to know about El Nino.

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

He acknowledges early predictions are notoriously low in confidence. CSU’s 2017 April prediction fell far from target because it anticipated the formation of a summer El Niño that never roared.

El Niño is typically associated with slower hurricane seasons, while La Niña tends to encourage hurricanes.

“Typically in the Atlantic, El Niño is our friend because it increases upper level winds and that increases shear,” Klotzbach said.

The hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

“I try to emphasize that June and July are part of the hurricane season but they are generally pretty quiet,” Klotzbach said. “Then August comes around and people think the season is a dud. It’s important to remind everyone June and July are normally quiet.”

AccuWeather is forecasting between 12 and 15 tropical cyclones this season. Of those, it expects 6 to 8 to become hurricanes and 3 to 5 to grow into major hurricanes.

Similar to last year, sea surface temperatures are expected to remain warmer than normal across most of the basin and normal to above normal over the main developmental region, where more than 85 percent of all tropical storms form, according to AccuWeather.

“The thing that’s causing the balance to tip in one direction [this year] is that sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.

According to Kottlowski, conditions are ripe for early season development in the Gulf of Mexico due the warm water already in place in that part of the Atlantic basin.

Please check back for more on this breaking news story. A more detailed article will appear in The Palm Beach Post and MyPalmBeachPost.com Friday.

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Some state officials want “shadow evacuees” to stay home next hurricane

Category 5 Hurricane Irma begins to impact the northern Leeward Islands won Sept. 5, 2027

An estimated 6.8 million Floridians evacuated for Hurricane Irma. Some did so twice.

Subtle shifts in the storm’s path sent the east coast scurrying west, then fleeing north where landlocked Leon County ran out of hotel rooms and filled 10 shelters with people, half of whom were from other parts of the state.

Gridlock on Florida’s Turnpike meant a 20-hour trek into Georgia as lines of cars jockeyed to escape the Sunshine State, crushing traffic like an accordion against the border where driving on the shoulder was no longer allowed.

But Florida officials said about 3 million of those who left were not in evacuation zones.

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These so-called “shadow evacuees” may be encouraged to ride out the next storm at home in an effort to minimize traffic, extend gas supplies and increase available rooms at the inn.

It’s a nuanced message of emergency — “know your zone, know your home.”

Related: Do you know your evacuation zone? Look it up here.

In other words, if you’re not in an evacuation zone, can your home withstand the forecast winds? And if it can, can you withstand what comes after the storm?

Is it fair to ask some people to stay put during the storm? Read more about the issue in the full story at MyPalmBeachPost.com. 

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