Hundreds of gators caught in Palm Beach County; this map shows where

Hundreds of alligators were removed from Palm Beach County in 2016 either after nuisance calls from residents or through the annual permitted harvest.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 544 gators were pulled from every manner of body of water including private pools, canals and the brackish Intracoastal.

“My experience is that anywhere there is a small body of water, there can be an alligator,” said Richard Cochran, a Boynton Beach resident who has been trapping alligators for the FWC since 2012. “I’m not trying to be an alarmist, it’s just that there is a potential anywhere there is fresh water for an alligator.”

Click below for an interactive map of where the gators were found:


Click here for a larger version of the map.


More than one gator could be taken from each location, said Tammy Sapp, a spokeswoman for the FWC.

Statewide, about 8,000 gators were removed following 12,759 nuisance alligator complaints.

Watch: Gator holding huge fish walks Florida golf course

In Palm Beach County, the largest concentrations of nuisance gators removed were in Wellington and in the 33412 Zip Code, which straddles Northlake Blvd. between Florida’s Turnpike and 140th Ave. N. Trappers took 53 gators from Wellington and 49 from the 33412 Zip Code.

Alligators — like this one spotted in The Acreage in 2011 — tend to hunt opportunistically, not aggressively, said David Hitzig of the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter.  (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Cochran said he averages about 50 alligators per year.

It’s not a profitable job for Cochran – he gets $30 per gator, which he said can be costly to process for meat and leather.

Related: Video: Gator chomps fish on Gardens golf course

“For me, it’s a way of giving back to the community,” he said. “I’m not afraid of gators, I like working with them, and I know there are a lot of people terrified of them.”

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there are an estimated 1.3 million alligators in the state.

Watch: Python and alligator in epic battle for survival 

The American alligator is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under their Threatened Due to Similarity of Appearance classification because it looks so similar to the American crocodile, which is federally listed as threatened. This listing provides federal protection for alligators but allows full state-approved management of alligators. All federal listings are incorporated into FWC rules.

Floridians can’t just call up the local alligator trapper to remove it like a raccoon.

Instead, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission operates the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, where people can report a suspicious gator.

The FWC decides whether it poses a risk and will then assign a trapper that it contracts with and licenses.

Related: 7-foot gator wanders outside Florida elementary school

Cochran said if a nuisance gator is 4-feet long or longer and the trapper doesn’t have a special permit to take it alive, it’s an automatic kill. Permits to take a live gator can be costly, so he said most trappers end up killing the gators they pick up.

Otherwise, nuisance gators can be sold to an alligator farm.

(Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post) WESTERN PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL..An alligator caught by Chris Mancuso, 14, of the Acreage is reeled in toward the shore of a canal. Five children were chosen for this year’s Youth Hunting Program of Florida a two day event sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“The biggest thing is people should not feed alligators,” Cochran said. “If I know an alligator has been fed, I generally will kill it no matter what because they’ve lost their fear of humans.”

Carol Lyn Parrish, a spokeswoman with the FWC, said this is the busiest time of year because its nesting season. The dry conditions may also be putting alligators on the move more often as the seek out water.

Watch: Alligator, 16 babies spotted in Florida backyard

“This is when they are on the move a lot,” Parrish said. “We get high call volumes because gators are much more visible.”

As of September 2016, the FWC has documented 628 alligator bites on humans, 388 of which were unprovoked and 238 were provoked.

Twenty-four of the bites resulted in human fatalities.

In June 2016, 2-year-old Lane Graves died after he was snatched from the shore of a Disney World resort by an alligator. Six alligators were killed following the death.

“The only thing I ever ask is that people don’t feed alligators,” Cochran said. “They are not pets.”

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BREAKING: Florida drought escalates to “extreme” level

A national report today shows Florida’s drought has escalated in key areas northwest of Lake Okeechobee to the “extreme” level.

About 6 percent of the state is now in an extreme drought – a level that could mean major crop, pasture losses, widespread water shortages and water restrictions.

Related: Ten things to know about the Herbert Hoover Dike and why Trump is weighing in

This is the first report this  year to show extreme areas of drought in Florida.

Florida drought map May 4, 2017

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows Palm Beach County’s conditions mostly unchanged from last week, with 73 percent with no parched areas or abnormally dry.

Nationwide, only Florida and a small area of North Georgia are in extreme drought.

The drought  north of Lake Okeechobee means less water going into the lake and less water being discharged into the Caloosahatchee estuary.

During rainy years, this is a good thing, but the drier weather is hurting the Caloosahatchee this year and some people are asking for the discharges to be increased.

“The extremes hit us in both directions,” said Mark Generales, a member of the South Florida Water Management District’s Water Resources Advisory Commission, or WRAC. “You are giving us 300 cubic feet per second and we really need 650.”

WRAC is meeting this morning.


VIDEO: Tornado confirmed in Palm Beach County

The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado hit in western Palm Beach County during Tuesday’s thunderstorms.

The tornado struck in a field and caused no damage, according to meteorologists at the NWS in Miami.

See video of tornado here.

Forecasters said the tornado occurred at about 5:30 p.m. between Belle Glade and Pahokee and are classifying it from the video as an EF-0.  A tornado warning was issued at 5:38 p.m. by the NWS and was valid until 6:30 p.m.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The western Palm Beach County tornado was the only one reported nationally Tuesday.

Storms that swept through Oklahoma and Texas did carry hail and damaging winds, but no tornadoes, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Related: Florida’s summer thunderstorms are unique, deadly

Tornadoes increase during spring nationwide as late season cold fronts interact with warming spring air, which spawns supercell thunderstorms. In South Florida, tornado concerns continue through summer in where afternoon thunderstorms are common.

The book “Florida Weather,” co-written by state climatologist David Zierden, says Florida has more tornadoes per 10,000 square miles than any state in the nation, “even Oklahoma.”

But because most Florida tornadoes are short-lived, smaller and less visible than those on the Great Plains, they tend to get less attention.

“Nonetheless, tornadoes in Florida have caused considerable loss of life and damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” the book notes.

Mammatus clouds seen near downtown West Palm Beach during Tuesday’s thunderstorms. Photo by Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post

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Update: Significant weather advisory for Palm Beach County expires

Update 7:42 p.m.: The significant weather advisory for southeastern Palm Beach County was allowed to expire.

But thunderstorms with lightning are still moving through Palm Beach County with showers possible into the overnight hours.

Today’s thunderstorms developed along a frontal boundary north of Lake Okeechobee interacting with moist warm air in South Florida.

Update 6:35 p.m.: A significant weather advisory has been issued for southeastern Palm Beach County, including Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

Forecasters are tracking a line of strong thunderstorms with rotation that could produce funnel clouds.

Damaging winds of up to 55 mph and small hail are possible with these storms. The advisory is in effect until 7:45 p.m.


Update 6:30 p.m.: The National Weather Service has allowed the tornado warning to expire for East and Central Palm Beach County.

Update 6:05 p.m.: A strong line of thunderstorms extending from 7 miles west of North County Airport to 8 miles southwest of Lion Country Safari has triggered a severe thunderstorm warning for northeastern Palm Beach County.

Locations impacted include West Palm Beach, Wellington, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and Riviera Beach.

The thunderstorm warning is in conjunction with the tornado warning for areas including Loxahatchee Groves, Royal Palm Beach and The Acreage. The tornado warning is in effect until 6:30 p.m.

UPDATE 5:55 p.m.: A tornado warning has been issued for northern-central Palm Beach County until 6:30 p.m. The areas that might see tornadoes include Loxahatchee Groves, Royal Palm Beach and The Acreage.

The National Weather Service is warning of possible quarter-size hail, and are calling this a “dangerous storm” that will be near Lion Country Safari around 6:30 p.m.

The line of thunderstorms with the potential tornado is moving east at 35 mph.

Forecasters are warning people to take cover in areas where storms are heavy.

Update 4:30 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a special marine warning for Lake Okeechobee as strong thunderstorms extend over a northwestern portion of the lake moving southeast.

Wind gusts of 39 mph or higher are possible. Frequent lightning, and heavy downpours are also expected.

Previous story: Showers and some strong thunderstorms are possible in South Florida today as daytime heat combines with a frontal boundary limping through the state.

The National Weather Service in Miami said “robust” showers are forecast, especially after the sea breezes kick up this afternoon.

Gusty winds and heavy rain is also possible as the slow-moving boundary may linger over some areas. Rain chances jump from 41 percent at 1 p.m. to 70 percent at 2 p.m.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

Up to 1.19 inches of rain could fall in parts of western Palm Beach County and south of Lake Okeechobee, while the Weather Prediction Center has coastal areas with up to 0.75 inches.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., is forecasting thunderstorms for Florida, but did not have any part of the state in a threat level area as of 7 a.m.

But slight cooling aloft triggered by a mid-level trough could mean a more unstable atmosphere, NWS forecasters said.

Related: How hail is formed 

Warm surface air shooting into a frigid upper atmosphere is one recipe for thunderstorms. A muggy overnight where temperatures dropped only into the mid-70s in West Palm Beach means daytime temperatures could heat up quickly.

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

“Daytime heating in combination with the frontal boundary and upper trough in this rich atmosphere should bring robust coverage of showers and storms as we head into the afternoon, especially as both sea breezes get going,” NWS forecasters in Miami wrote in their morning discussion.


SunFest forecast for Wednesday: Warm night for Weezer and Snoop Dogg

The annual music, food and entertainment extravaganza that is SunFest begins Wednesday with doors opening at 5 p.m.

While daytime highs in the low 80s and afternoon sea breezes may ignite some showers inland, West Palm Beach should be mostly dry with less than a 12 percent chance of rain.

“Tomorrow looks pretty good with cooler temperatures than today and really no rain,” said Chris Fisher, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “There will be a good bit of sun out.”

Humidity will pick up as the winds turn more easterly toward early evening with dew point temperatures near 70.

Doors open 5 p.m.: 83 degrees with a heat index of 86, 9 percent chance of rain.

7 p.m.: The Strumbellas (indie rock), Ford Stage, 81 degrees with an east wind and 65 percent relative humidity.

8:15 p.m.: Snoop Dogg, (hip hop/rap), Tire Kindgom Stage, 78 degrees with 12 percent chance of rain.

8:30 p.m.: Weezer (alt. rock), Ford Stage, 78 degrees with a 12 percent chance of rain.

SunFest 2016 in West Palm Beach. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

Weather service: Severe weather threat overnight for Palm Beach County

Update, 1 a.m.: The National Weather Service has canceled the tornado warning for east central Palm Beach County.

Update, 12:50 a.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for east central Palm Beach County until 1 a.m.

The most dangerous part of the storm will be near Boynton Beach beginning around 12:45 a.m.

Update: 10:55 p.m. Around 10:30 p.m., the National Weather Service reported strong thunderstorms moving into Western Glades County with winds gusting between 45 and 55 mph

Update 9:20 p.m. The Storm Prediction Center has increased the threat area across South Florida for severe weather, including in Palm Beach County.

The marginal threat for thunderstorms means locally damaging winds and tornadoes are possible.

The worst of the weather is expected to hit the southeast coast after 2 a.m.

Previous story: Thunderstorms are possible late this afternoon into the overnight hours ahead of what may be the coldest, driest air of the season and the first extended period of below normal temperatures since late January.

The Storm Prediction Center has extended the marginal threat area to include much of Collier, Glades, Indian River, Brevard and Hendry counties, with a mention of storms along the southeast coast including in Palm Beach County.

Related: Flights out of PBIA cancelled ahead of Northeast storm

But National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said there is a chance the threat will be moved even further east this afternoon, and Melbourne meteorologists aren’t ruling out tornadoes in some Central Florida counties.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

Updated 12:24 p.m.

A surface low pressure system located this morning over the western Gulf of Mexico and its trailing front is responsible for whatever rain and storms occur during the next 24 hours with Palm Beach County forecast to get up to 0.25 inches of rain by 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The National Weather Service in Miami said the best chance for thunderstorms will come after 6 p.m. this evening as a squall line moves west to east across the Peninsula. Storms will be emboldened by a screaming jet stream running at 150 mph and higher moisture levels on the west coast of the state.

This map shows the forecast location of the front as of 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Related: 10 Daylight Saving Time facts and whose to blame for the annual loss of an hour 

2 p.m. Monday location of the front

By 8 a.m. Tuesday, the front is expected to be through the area and the National Weather Service is forecasting only a 20 percent chance of rain for South Florida on Tuesday.

8 a.m. Tuesday location of the front

But the real news is a day behind the front when what forecasters said could be the coolest air of the season washes through the Peninsula.

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

“This air mass looks to be one of the driest and coolest, potentially, that South Florida has seen this winter,” NWS forecasters in Miami wrote in a discussion. “Temperatures in the 40s and 50s can be expected over a large portion of South Florida from mid-week to week’s end.”

Because the drier air will make temperatures feel “crisp”, forecasters said they will be keeping a close eye on winds later this week to see if a wind chill threat emerges.

Related: South Florida residents asked to increase water conservation efforts 

The normal daytime high this time of year for West Palm Beach is 79 degrees, with a normal overnight low of 62 degrees. That means temperatures will be running about 10 degrees cooler than  normal.

Weekly weather forecast

While South Florida is bracing for cold temperatures, the Northeast is expecting blizzard conditions and a paralyzing storm that has already led to thousands of flight cancellations today and tomorrow.

Accuweather meteorologists said the snowfall could rival the blizzard of March 1993.

“The heaviest snow is likely to fall near the I-81 corridor of Pennsylvania and along part of the New York Thruway in the Hudson Valley of New York, I-91 in northern Connecticut and Massachusetts and I-93 in New Hampshire,” Accuweather wrote in a press release.

Twelve states are under a winter storm warning from the National Weather Service. Areas from West Virginia to Maine can expect debilitating conditions and snowfall of one to three inches per hour in some places.

In New York, blizzard conditions with up to 2 feet of snow are forecast for the western portions of the state. Possible blizzard conditions early Tuesday morning are forecast for southeastern areas.

In Boston, snow will start falling early Tuesday morning with winds increasing throughout the day to gusts of up to 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent with new snow accumulations of up to 17 inches possible.

“Residents should prepare for school closures and potential cancellations of sporting events due to hazardous travel for players and fans,” according to Accuweather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski in a morning forecast. “New York City’s Central Park has not recorded more than 10 inches of snow from one storm in March since the 1993 Storm of the Century.”

Forecasters in the Mount Holly, N.J. office of the National Weather Service are asking people to stay in their homes between 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday. If travel is unavoidable, people are being asked to take a “safety packet” of warm clothing, bottled water and a fully charged cell phone.

“No unnecessary travel,” they wrote.


Warm Monday, but cold front to send temps plummeting

A significant late-season cold front will move through South Florida Tuesday, dropping temperatures into the 50s overnight and struggling to reach 70 during the day.

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said the front differs from others this winter because they expect frigid northern air to dig deep into the Gulf of Mexico pushed by strong north winds. The result will leave South Florida with air more suited for January than mid-March.

Download The Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app

“As opposed to almost all of the cool air masses this winter, the surface high pressure area of Canadian origin is expected to plunge south to the Gulf coast and keep northerly winds over Florida for several days,” forecasters wrote in a morning discussion. “A sign that March is still winter and that summer heat is still a ways off.”

A deep dip in the jet stream, which has been unusual so far this winter, is to blame for the cold air reaching South Florida.

The coldest period is forecast to be Wednesday night through Thursday with nighttime temperatures west of Lake Okeechobee plunging into the lower 40s. Coastal areas will see overnight lows in the 50s. The cold air is expected to last through at least the end of the week with high temperatures as much as 10 degrees below normal.

The normal overnight temperature for this time of year in West Palm Beach is 62 degrees with a normal daytime high of 79.

Check The Post’s live interactive radar

In the meantime, Monday should see mostly cloudy skies with a 50 percent chance of rain, according to the weather service. Expect highs in the low 80s, then evening lows in the low 60s. The chance of rain rises to 60 percent in the evening.

While South Florida will see much cooler temperatures this week, the northeast is bracing for a paralyzing snow storm that Accuweather forecasters called “winter strikes back.”

“A widespread snowfall of 6 inches is likely with localized amounts over 12 inches in the Northeast,” according to Accuweather senior meteorologist Brett Anderson.

“For many areas in the Northeast, this will likely be the biggest and most impactful storm of the winter,” wrote Accuweather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski in a Sunday forecast.

Related: 10 Daylight Saving Time facts you may not know and why farmers aren’t to blame

South Florida’s wintertime temperatures have so far run about 4 degrees above the normal mean, with West Palm Beach simmering through its fourth warmest winter on record.

La Nina has taken much of the blame this winter for the balmy temperatures.

The periodic climate phenomenon that often follows El Niño can straighten out the polar jet stream — shooting the ribbon of 140-mph winds straight across the country like an arrow and preventing deep sags into the south.

This west to east flow means cooler air is confined north of the jet stream and that South Florida gets piddling fronts that spit rain but don’t do much to bring down temperatures.

But the Climate Prediction Center declared La Nina kaput last month. The Earth is now in a neutral phase with a 55 percent chance of El Nino returning by July.

La Nina

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