BREAKING: State team deployed to investigate MacArthur Beach fish kill

Dead fish wash up on the beach south of Donald Ross Road during an outbreak of red tide in Juno Beach on October 3, 2018. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 5 p.m.: A state team of biologists will investigate a fish kill reported today at MacArthur Beach State Park.

According to a press release:

Parks staff is working to perform clean-up as quickly as possible, while coordinating with FWC to investigate any potential causes. To date, at Governor Scott’s direction, DEP has distributed grant funding of more than $10 million to support efforts in impacted counties to mitigate and combat red tide.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Most Palm Beach County beaches will remain closed Thursday, with the exception of Phil Foster Park, Peanut Island and Ocean Ridge Hammock.

Officials said this afternoon that people are still complaining of scratchy throats and wheezing – symptoms of a red tide that was found in low to moderate quantities in waters from Palm Beach Inlet to Jupiter Inlet.

Also, “limited fish kills on some beaches” have been reported.

To report a fish kill, call the FWC’s hotline at 800-636-0511.

UPDATE: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said dead fish are being cleaned up off of MacArthur Beach Beach State Park and will be tested for red tide.

The park is closed. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will test for the Karenia brevis toxin to see if that was the cause of death.

Previous story: Palm Beach County is posting specially-made signs warning of red tide at its beaches today, which remain closed as lifeguards continue to report coughing, scratchy throats and watery eyes.

Aquatics director Laurie Schobelock said the new vinyl signs being made by the county’s sign shop will be posted at beach information boards and at beach entrances if there are extra.

She said the county is getting a few calls reporting dead fish, but that she was at Juno Beach this morning and didn’t see dead fish. She did feel the red tide-induced scratch in her throat and said it was a little sore until she returned to her office.

PHOTOS: Red tide hits Palm Beach County 

RELATED: What the red tide samples showed, and other algae questions answered

“This is all a moving target,” Schobelock said about managing the red tide situation. “The decision about closing the beaches tomorrow will be made later in the day.”

The county had expected to open beaches today, but reversed course after NOAA released a forecast that predicted “moderate” levels of red tide along Palm Beach County through at least Friday.

New red tide test results are expected today from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but it’s unknown if they will include information beyond what was released Monday that showed low to moderate levels of Karenia brevis at 11 sites tested.

“The biggest thing is if anyone is having any sort of respiratory issue they should stay away from the beaches,” Schobelock said. “Exercise caution and be aware this is going on.”

Delray Beach resident Harvey Latidus said he walked his dog this morning near Atlantic Avenue and felt what he likened to “tear gas.”

He was concerned there were no signs explaining what was happening.

“It got me good this morning,” he said. “They have the red flags out so they don’t want you in the water, but there are no signs, there’s nothing. The city could send a flier or give notice to people in regards to this.”

Red tide, which grows in saltwater, is naturally occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. This summer, onshore winds pushed the toxin close to beaches that were fouled by massive fish kills, as well as dead manatees, turtles and dolphins.

How the red tide got to Palm Beach County is still a matter of debate, although the general theory is it got caught in the Florida Current, which runs through the Florida Straits into the Gulf Stream.

Richard Stumpf, a NOAA oceanographer who tracks algae blooms by satellite, said a red tide bloom passed west of the Marquesas Keys, which are west of Key West, in mid-September. Following that, a mild algae bloom formed offshore of the upper Keys and stretched west to the Gulf Stream.

“That moved through the Palm Beach area over the weekend when you had strong easterly winds,” Stumpf said. “The winds would help accumulate cells at the shore concentrating them from a mild to a dense bloom.”

RELATED: Fighting, fingerpointing no way to fix toxic algae issue

Malcolm McFarland, a research associate at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, said the natural currents didn’t look like they were in the right place to pick up the red tide in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It could be a local bloom entirely separate from what’s happening on the west coast,” McFarland said. “And that would be even more interesting.”

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Reliable Perseids put on light show this weekend

A special cosmic gift will add to this weekend’s acclaimed Perseid meteor shower, which is considered one of the most reliable and robust celestial shows of the year.

The attention-hogging moon will be just past new, meaning less lunar light pollution to obscure the Perseids — an omission that won’t happen again during this shower until 2021.

Saturday after 11 p.m. through Sunday morning, and again Sunday night through early Monday will be the best viewing times for the shower named for Perseus, a mythical monster slayer and Greek hero.

The Perseids are generally active from late July through Aug. 24, but peak Saturday through Monday.

RELATED: Why the 2018 hurricane forecast changed so drastically

The shower gets going in South Florida as the constellation Perseus comes up over the northeastern horizon, which is about 11 p.m., said J. Kelly Beatty, senior editor for Sky and Telescope.

In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Spruce Knob, West Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

“The very early ones are skimming through the atmosphere and can create really dramatic fireballs,” Beatty said. “If you are looking from a very dark site, like the middle of the Everglades, you might see one every minute, but if not, it might be one every 10 to 15 minutes.”

The best viewing conditions — generally a dark area away from the city lights — can be hard to come by in South Florida, but a drive to Lake Okeechobee or even a stroll on the beach may suffice. Also, the website Slooh will live webcast the shower to its members beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday. Memberships are available at

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The Perseid shower is considered runner-up in quantity and brilliance only to the Geminid shower in December, and is known for being fairly rich in fireballs. Fireballs are brighter than the planet Venus.

A NASA analysis of all-sky images taken from 2008 to 2013 shows that the Perseids deliver more bright meteors than any other annual meteor shower, according to Sky & Telescope.

Debris from the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle is the source of the Perseids. The comet orbits the sun in a large cigar-shaped motion, with Earth passing through the comet rubble every year in mid-August.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

This Perseid fireball was observed by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network in the skies over New Mexico on the morning of Aug. 12, 2015.

The comet sheds debris that can range from the size of a pinhead to a half-dollar.

“The moonless sky this year means the viewing will be excellent, and the shower’s predicted peak is timed especially well for North America,” said Sky & Telescope Observing Editor Diana Hannikainen in a press release. “Under a very dark sky, you might see up to one Perseid per minute late on Sunday night or after midnight on Monday morning.”

Whether South Florida’s skies will cooperate with viewing the Perseids is in question.

After a bout of Saharan air dried out the atmosphere mid-week, showers were expected to return Friday afternoon and extend through the weekend in a more typical summer pattern.

Courtesy Sky & Telescope

The National Weather Service in Miami is forecasting a 30 percent chance of rains today and tonight for much of Palm Beach County with a daytime high temperature of 91. The heat index, or “feels like” temperature could hit 103 today.

Sunday also has a 30 percent chance of showers with the possibility of thunderstorms. The high temperature Sunday should be in the high 80s to low 90s.

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AMAZING IMAGE: On a hunt for planets, satellite sees 200,000 stars

A planet-hunting satellite made a lunar flyby Thursday, passing about 5,000 miles from the moon and capturing a stunning photo.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, launched last month on a mission to find new worlds.

In a test of one of its cameras, a two-second exposure was taken, revealing more than 200,000 stars, according to NASA.

RELATED: Above Earth’s bristling thunderstorms are light shows beyond man’s understanding.

The image is centered on the southern constellation Centaurus, with the edge of the Coalsack Nebula in the right upper corner. The bright star Beta Centauri is visible at the lower left edge.

This test image from one of the four cameras aboard the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) captures a swath of the southern sky along the plane of our galaxy. Credits: NASA/MIT/TESS

“TESS is expected to cover more than 400 times the amount of sky shown in this image when using all four of its cameras during science operations,” NASA said in a press release.

TESS is one a two-year hunt for planets outside our solar system, which are known as exoplanets.

Thousands of exoplanets have already been discovered. In 2016, NASA developed a unique way to introduce some of them to the public with an whimsical vacation-planning guide.

An artist’s rendition of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS.

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Strong thunderstorm moving toward Boca Raton

UPDATE 4:39 P.M.: A significant weather advisory has been issued for southeastern Palm Beach County as a strong thunderstorm moves into the region.

Small hail, lightning, funnel clouds, wind gusts to 55 mph and torrential rain are possible with this storm.

The advisory is in effect until 5:15 p.m.

UPDATE 1:18 P.M.: Thunderstorms are firing up along Palm Beach County’s southeast coast and southwest inland area.

The storms have triggered weather advisories from the National Weather Service, with forecasters warning of nickel size hail, funnel clouds and winds in excess of 45 mph.

The storms in are moving north at between 15 and 20 mph.

The advisory for the southwest storm is in effect until 1:45 p.m.

UPDATE 12:53 P.M.: The National Weather Service has issued a significant weather advisory for areas of southeast Palm Beach County as a strong line of thunderstorms moves into the region.

The storm is moving north at 15 mph.

Funnel clouds are possible with this storm, as well as torrential rain.

Areas affected include Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, Lake Worth, Highland Beach, Green acres, Lantana and Ocean Ridge.

The advisory is in effect until 1:15 p.m.

Previous story: 

Get some sunshine when you can this week, because the rain is expected to continue through at least Friday with the wettest periods during the afternoon hours.

The area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico continues to pull tropical moisture into the state. National Hurricane Center forecasters are giving the disturbance only a 10 percent chance of developing into a tropical or subtropical system over the next five days.

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

Despite development, it will bring more wet weather to South Florida as it creeps north toward the Panhandle this week.

With the focus of the low further north and west over the course of the week, National Weather Service meteorologists expect showers and thunderstorms to be stirred up by daytime heating.

That means most of the bad weather, including some thunderstorms will be in the afternoon.

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“Also, the risk of intense convection will go down as well, although at least some concern for waterspouts will remain in the highly tropical air mass,” NWS forecasters wrote this morning.

Rainfall totals  through Monday for South Florida are between 3 to 7 inches, with the highest amounts alone the east coast. Training or stalled thunderstorms could lead to much higher amounts in localized areas.

Three tornadoes zipped through Florida during Monday’s storms, including an EF-0 that hit in western Palm Beach County. The other weak tornadoes were in Brevard and Martin counties.

The Palm Beach County tornado, judged to be an EF-0 with up to 80 mph winds, touched down at 5:34 a.m. near 71st Place North and Apache Blvd. It ripped a 1.5 mile-path northwest across Seminole Pratt Whitney Road before lifting four minutes later near Valencia Blvd. and Banyan Blvd.

See images of tornado damage in western Palm Beach County.

In the short rampage, the twister tossed trampolines, toppled a bunny cage and a chicken shed, shredded pool screens, knocked on doors loud enough to set off a burglar alarm, obliterated at least one shed and uprooted a tree in the paddock of an 18-year-old horse named Flash.

RELATED: Slimmer cone for 2018 hurricane season reflects forecasting improvements.

Mike Jordan, Flash’s keeper, said he was watching the news when the worst of the storm hit. He heard the tornado warning.

“About two minutes after that, there it was,” he said.

In Brevard County, a tornado that started as a waterspout in the Banana River whacked a mobile home park on Merritt Island on Monday. The weather service in Melbourne confirmed the damage was consistent with a low-end tornado.

In far western Martin County, weather service meteorologists confirmed an EF-0 tornado took part of a barn’s roof off and caused minor damage to a screened porch.

The soupy swirl of low pressure hugging Florida’s west coast was given a 30 percent chance of developing into a tropical or subtropical system over the next five days as it heads north into the Panhandle.

Another 5 inches is possible through Saturday morning.

“They’ll be some peaks of sun here and there,” said Chris Fisher, a meteorologist with the NWS in Miami. “It’s hard to pin down a rain estimate, but, areawide, it could be another 3-5 inches through the end of the week.”

In the 24-hour period ending at 6:45 a.m., the most rain fell north of Lake Okeechobee, where water managers were forced to close a lock to boat traffic it could keep it open for flood control.

South Florida Water Management District rainfall in the 24-hour period before 6:45 a.m.

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Very close encounter of the asteroid kind tonight

A large asteroid up to 427 feet across will safely buzz by Earth tonight in one of the closest encounters of an asteroid of that size to the planet on record.

Asteroid 2010 WC9 will pass at about half’s the moon’s distance at 6:05 p.m.

While not visible to the naked eye, an observatory in England is hoping to live webcast views of the asteroid on its Facebook page. 

In this image from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory the asteroid can be seen nearing Earth on May 4.

According to, the asteroid was first located by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona on Nov. 30, 2010.

“They didn’t have enough observations to track its orbit fully and so predict its return,” wrote Eddie Irizarry in a blog on “On May 8, almost eight years later, astronomers discovered an asteroid and gave it the temporary designation Zj99C60.”

But then they realized it was the same asteroid they had discovered in 2010 returning.

Asteroid 2010 WC9 on May 9. Image via Daniel Bamberger/Northolt Branch Observatories.

WATCH LIVE: SpaceX makes second attempt to launch Block 5

Falcon 9 Block 5 rolling onto launch pad as seen in Instagram post by Elon Musk.

UPDATE 4 p.m.: Watch live as Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket launches.

SpaceX will make a second attempt this afternoon to launch its Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket after the mission was aborted Thursday.

The launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center opens with a two-hour window at 4:14 p.m. The launch will be webcast by SpaceX here.

It is the first launch of the Falcon 9 Block 5, which is the final substantial upgrade to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 vehicle.

The rocket is carrying the Bangabandhu 1 satellite, which is Bangladesh’s first communications satellite.

SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of course I still love you” drone ship.

A two-hour backup launch window opens Saturday at 4:15 p.m.


DON’T MISS: SpaceX debuts new Block 5 rocket

Falcon 9 Block 5 rolling onto launch pad as seen in Instagram post by Elon Musk.

UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: Watch the launch of SpaceX’s newest rocket live:

UPDATE 3:25 p.m.:  SpaceX is now targeting a launch time of 5:47 p.m.

Previous story: The debut of SpaceX’s newest rocket is scheduled for Thursday with a launch from Kennedy Space Center.

The new-generation Falcon 9 Block is expected to launch from pad 39A with a launch window stretching from 4:12 p.m. to 6:22 p.m.

The launch can be viewed on the SpaceX website.

The rocket will be carrying a communications satellite for Bangadesh called the Bangabandhu Satellite-1. It is the first communications satellite for Bangladesh.

According to Florida Today: “The nearly 8,000-pound satellite will deliver communications services to Asia ranging from Turkmenistan to the Philippines with the Bangladesh Communications Satellite Company, located roughly in the middle, as its operator. Bangladesh will become the 58th country in history to operate a geostationary satellite after it reaches orbit.”

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WATCH: Best views of mighty Jupiter this week

Mighty Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, reaches opposition to the sun this week, giving the Earth its best view of the bright gas giant.

Opposition is a time when the Earth lies between a planet and the sun. It offers the best views because the planets are away from the glare of the sun and closer to Earth than usual.

While Jupiter reaches opposition May 8, it is closest to the Earth on May 10. Jupiter is now rising in the east as the sun is setting.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar map.

Portrait of Jupiter compiled from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Courtesy NASA

Florida Atlantic University will celebrate Jupiter’s opposition by opening its astronomical observatory for a free public viewing Friday.

“There is something visceral, personal and authentically real that one experiences when you look through a telescope at a celestial object,” said FAU astronomer Eric Vandernoot. “When you witness it then, it is just you and the object, with nothing in between to perhaps alter your view of it.”

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

The event is from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the observatory, which is on the top floor of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science on the Boca Raton campus. Find information about parking here.

FAU observatory

In addition to the observatory access, there will be a presentation about Jupiter and its moons, the formation of the solar system and a discussion about NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

Related: Is the Town of Jupiter really is named after the planet? 

“It is one of the few events that I know of around here, where people come sit down for the presentation, run up to the scope for a peep, come down and continue the presentation and stay for hours discussing science,” Vandernoot said.

The best viewing is when Jupiter appears high up at the horizon, which occurs at 1 a.m., but a view through the telescope is available all night.


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Vandernoot said a volunteer will operate the telescope, while he gives the lectures below the the telescope platform.

For more information about the event, check the FAU observatory website.

Jupiter’s opposition will be the first of three this summer with Saturn’s at the end of June and the opposition of Mars on July 27.

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Dust from Halley’s comet hits Earth this weekend

A waning gibbous moon lights a darkened sky Sunday, distracting Earth from the modest twinkling of space dust left by the planet’s most celebrated comet.

While Halley’s comet was last seen in 1986 and won’t be visible again until 2061, it reminds the world of its presence twice a year with the Eta Aquariid meteor shower in May and Orionid meteor shower in October.

The Eta Aquariid shower peaks in the pre-dawn hours Sunday, but a blazing grain of Halley’s comet may be seen before and after the peak date.

Coastal South Florida is not considered an ideal viewing area for meteor showers, and this year the moon will add to the light pollution. The shower favors the southern hemisphere, but South Florida is close enough for a moderate show in ideal conditions.

Halley’s Comet, perhaps the most famous of all comets, is parent of both the Eta Aquarid meteor shower in May and October’s Orionid meteor shower. Image via NASA.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar map.

At its peak, 20 to 60 Eta Aquariid meteors may be seen per hour. According to NASA, the meteors are known for moving swiftly – about 148,000 mph. Fast meteors can leave glowing trails that last for several seconds to even minutes.

Florida Atlantic University astronomer Eric Vandernoot said the comet Halley (pronounced hal-ee) is a household name because it can be seen without special equipment and makes an appearance about every 76 years.

“There really isn’t any other short-period comet that is visible to the naked eye,” Vandernoot said. “So when it comes, it gets superstar billing.”

Vandernoot said the 1910 passage of Halley’s comet offered stellar views, passing through the comet’s tail. It was more muted in 1986.

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Halley’s comet was discovered by Edmund Halley in 1705, but is believed to have been recognized for millennia. NASA says the comet is featured in the Bayeux tapestry – an embroidered cloth that depicts the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

“The length of its orbit fits well within a human lifespan,” said Deborah Byrd, editor in chief of Earth and Sky. “So some people, for example, might see Halley’s comet twice in a lifetime. Parents or grandparents might tell their children about seeing it. Over time, it has become well known.”

The weekend’s forecast may also be a deterrent to seeing a particle of Halley’s comet streak across the sky.

Sunday’s forecast includes a 50 to 60 percent chance of rain.

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Sunfest forecast day 1: Small chance of rain for Mr. Idol

A small chance of rain and temperatures in the high 70s will greet Sunfest goers tonight.

While skies will be partly sunny as Sunfest gates open at 5 p.m., rain chances start to grow at 7 p.m. and hit 30 percent by 8 p.m.

A system stirring near the Bahamas is forecast to move west Friday into Saturday, increasing the rain chances for West Palm Beach to 40 percent Friday night and up to 60 percent Saturday during the day.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar map. 

“Right now, it doesn’t look like a washout,” said Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters about the weekend weather. “It will be more hit and miss with periods where there could be a few hours of rain showers.”

SUNFEST 2018: Everything you need to know.

The  headliner tonight is Billy Idol. He takes the Tire Kingdom state at 8 p.m.

Gates on Friday also open at 5 p.m.

“Confidence is a little below average on exactly how much moisture and showers there will be this weekend,” said Andrew Hagen, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Miami. “How this potential system evolves will really determine our rain chances.”

SunFest goes on rain or shine. No refunds or ticket exchanges are offered because of bad weather. Umbrellas, even beach umbrellas, are allowed in the venue.

RELATED: What you should know about the 2018 hurricane season.

In 2013, three days of rain dampened the festivities.

Workers with Harbor Entertainment of Nashville ready an installation for the entrance to the Sunfest Art District Monday morning, April 30, 2018. Drew Dedo, owner of Harbor Entertainment and originally from West Palm Beach, says 180 of the inflatable balls sized from 18 inches to 9 feet in diameter will be installed. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

While that’s not expected this year, meteorologists have been watching for potential tropical development from the system near the Bahamas.

Masters said the potential for a sub tropical depression or depression forming by Saturday is about 10 percent. The National Hurricane Center has not identified any areas of concern.

“If this were June, they would probably start tracking it, but the climatology is really against something forming this early,” said Masters about the NHC.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar map. 

Accuweather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said he doesn’t see a trigger to spin up a tropical system this weekend, but said the weather pattern is something to pay attention to this time of year.

“Whenever you see an unusual feature like this this time of year, you take note because sea surface temperatures are warm enough,” Kottlowski said.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 28: Billy Idol attends the 11th Annual Musicares Map Fund Benefit concert at Best Buy Theater on May 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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