8 p.m. UPDATE: The remnants of Tropical Storm Kirk are likely to redevelop into a tropical cyclone during the next day or two before it moves into an area of highly unfavorable upper-level winds as it approaches the Caribbean, according to the latest Tropical Weather Outlook from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
At 8 p.m., the remnants were about 750 miles east of the Windward Islands and moving quickly westward at 20-25 mph. Chance of tropical formation in the next 48 hours was 70 percent.
Meanwhile, off the coast of North Carolina, a low pressure area still has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical system. An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft reported that the circulation has become better defined but the associated showers and thunderstorms remain disorganized.
The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board will give final consideration to its 2018-2019 budget tonight, which includes no property tax increases for the eighth consecutive year.
The tentative budget of $813.9 million reduces the tax rate for 15 of its 16 counties by about 5.3 percent to $29 per $100,000 of taxable property value. That reduction, called the “rollback rate”, ensures that even though property values have increased, residents will pay the same, or slightly less, than the previous year.
“By eliminating nonessential costs and limiting administrative overhead, this governing board proudly continues its tradition of not raising taxes while achieving flood protection, water supply and environmental restoration,” said Governing Board Chairman Federico Fernandez in a July press release after the board tentatively approved the tax rate in an 8 to 1 vote.
The lone dissenter in the July vote, and subsequent budget discussions, was Jim Moran, who represents Palm Beach County on the board.
Moran, who was appointed to the board by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011, is a self-described “conservative tea party guy,” and advocate of smaller government.
But he said he can’t support an 8th year of reduced tax rates.
“We need more money, we’re broke” Moran said in July. “When I first came on the board we had $400 to $500 million in what I call unrestricted reserves, but we’ve spent that down for restoration projects and other projects to what is now below $60 million and we are still only collecting the same amount we were eight to nine years ago.”
Moran said keeping the tax rate the same this year would raise an additional $18 to $20 million that could be used for repairs and maintenance to the district’s flood control system, employee raises and bonuses, invasive plant control and upgrades to the district’s fleet of vehicles, including construction equipment.
“It’s one thing to cut back to the bone and still be able to run efficiently, but it’s another thing to have the budget so lean you are not adequately doing flood control or rewarding employees who deserve better bonuses and raises,” Moran said Monday.
The proposed budget does include an additional $3 million for employee compensation, which is a $1.7 million increase, and $3 million for operations and maintenance, which is used to for repairs to levees, canals and water control structures.
District staff said in July that even if money was no object for operations and maintenance, they couldn’t physically complete more projects or do more repairs and that the $3 million allocation was decided on after discussions with Chief Engineer John Mitnik.
Moran has been the lone voice on the board with concerns regarding the upkeep of district flood control systems, repeatedly pointing to a year-long review by the inspector general that found the annual allotment set aside for repairs should be about $88.5 million, while the actual budget averages only $53 million.
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.
The district is in charge of about 760 culverts, weirs, spillways, locks and pump stations. It also maintains 2,100 miles of canals and 2,000 miles of levees in the 16-county region it oversees from Orlando to the Florida Keys.
Moran resigned as chairman of the district’s Water Resources Analysis Coalition in May after he had asked that the report be added to the coalition’s agenda, but was denied.
“Where I’m not seeing the great concern arise is with our staff,” Fernandez said in July about Moran’s concerns. “The messaging we’ve been receiving is one of staying the course because we’ve been very effective in sticking to our knitting and in not asking for more than what we need.”
The district has been in cost-cutting mode since 2011, which included losing hundreds of employees to layoff and buyouts. In 2009, the district had 1,828 full time employees. The 2018-2019 budget includes 1,475 employees – a nearly 20 percent reduction in the past decade.
Moran wasn’t the only person encouraging the board to keep the millage rate the same.
He was joined by NylaPipes, a member of the district’s Water Resources Analysis Coalition and executive director of One Florida Foundation, and Cara Capp, Everglades restoration program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. Both spoke at the July meeting.
Pipes mentioned this summer’s algae plague on Lake Okeechobee and in both northern estuaries.
“If you are looking at a rollback rate when all of us are advocating for projects we know we need, we are sending a very mixed message and I am confident Floridians want to get there on all of these projects and they want to get there faster,” Pipes said. “Literally, at this moment, we have declarations of emergency in this state, and it’s time to recognize the economy is getting better and Floridians will stand behind you if you continue doing the good work you’re doing.”
UPDATE 12:17 p.m.: Kirk lost its center circulation this morning, meaning it no longer fits the definition of a tropical cyclone.
The National Hurricane Center is no longer issuing advisories on the system, but its remnants will be monitored as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles.
UPDATE 8 a.m.: The Carolinas could be in store for another round of unwanted rain as a low pressure system between Bermuda and the Bahamas finds a more conducive environment for strengthening as it moves west-northwest.
The area, which was given a 40 percent chance of development over the next five days, is in an area with slightly warmer than normal sea surface temperatures, but is expected to reach even warmer waters this week.
If the area of low pressure near the Carolinas were to become a named storm it would be Michael.
Kirk, which became the season’s 11th named storm on Saturday, has weakened to a depression but could see some restrengthening before hitting the “ever-present wall of wind shear near” near the Lesser Antilles, Masters said.
That wind shear is expected to tear Kirk apart later this week.
According to the National Hurricane Center, four named storms develop in the Atlantic after mid-September in an average season, three of which become hurricanes and one of which becomes a Category 3 or stronger hurricane.
While the 2018 season remains above normal for this time of year with 12 named storms, including 5 hurricanes, it has one fewer major hurricane than normal.
Florence has been the only storm to become a major hurricane of Cat 3 or stronger.
The number of named storms is challenging forecasters’ predictions for an average storm season.
The Climate Prediction Center’s August forecast predicted 9 to 13 named storms, 4 to 7 hurricanes and 0 to 2 major hurricanes.
“This year, despite the recent uptick in activity, the overall activity remains typical of a less active season,” said Gerry Bell, lead hurricane forecaster for the Climate Prediction Center. “For example, only two of seven storms since August 1have become hurricanes. This propensity for weaker, shorter-lived storms is typical of a less active season.”
Tropical Storm Kirk has weakened to a tropical depression as it moves quickly west across the Atlantic.
The National Hurricane Center said it had 35-mph maximum sustained winds, which were expected to strengthen but then lessen and dissipate the next few days.
Meanwhile subtropical storm Leslie is lingering in the Central Atlantic with maximum sustained winds at 40 miles per hour. It’s not expected to move much today, nor gain strength until it merges with a frontal system in the next two or three days.
Lastly, there is an area of low pressure between Bermuda and the Bahamas that has a 30 percent of forming into a depression within 48 hours.
September’s full harvest moon rises tonight, but there’s something special about the lunar machinations this time of year.
Near the fall equinox, which was Saturday, the moon rises each day closer together, according to Earth and Sky. That means instead of a delay between 40 and 50 minutes each subsequent day, it’s more like 30 to 35 minutes.
The higher the latitude, the shorter the time lag. In Alaska, the lag time is just 10 minutes. In Denver it’s 30 minutes.
“No matter where you live worldwide, the moon will appear plenty full to you on both September 24 and 25, lighting up the night from dusk until dawn,” said Earth and Sky columnist Bruce McClure.
In West Palm Beach, moonrise tonight is 7:20 p.m.
Tuesday’s moonrise will be 7:55 p.m..
Wednesday will see the moon rise at 8:41 p.m.
The Harvest Moon is the only Full Moon name which is determined by the equinox rather than a month, according to TimeandDate.com.
Bottom line, look east tonight at 7:20 p.m. for September’s full harvest moon. Go to the beach, or the Intracoastal waterway for a special celestial treat when the moon emerges large and plump over the flat horizon.
Everything is pointing to an early Fall cool down this year, maybe 8-10 days away…except in Florida. We will still be frolicking in the ocean and working on our tan. But you go ahead America. Cool down all you want. Have a pumpkin spice whatever and think about us on the beach. pic.twitter.com/WShQQgclWA
Ordered in April, the nearly four-month wait is more than quadruple the norm as aluminum prices edge up and supply dwindles with more mills looking toavoid tariffs by buying American, said Andy Kobosko, Jr., owner of Guardian Storm Protection in suburban West Palm Beach.
Kobosko, whose company filled the Frenchman’s Creek order, said he’s recently reduced delays to four to six weeks by buying in bulk with his Fort Lauderdale-based distributor. A normal wait time for shutters before the tariffs was two to three weeks, Kobosko said.
“Things are starting to catch up, but it’s been a stressful three months,” he said.
The tropics are nothing if not tenacious this September, with a tropical wave trying to become the next named storm under a plume of dry Saharan air.
National Hurricane Center forecasters are giving the area of disturbed weather only a 20 percent of tropical development over the next five days, with nearly no chance of development in the next 48 hours.
But by September, SAL outbreaks overspread the Caribbean only 10 to 15 percent of the time.
“It’s just that they’re a bit smaller than their June to August cousins and they especially don’t tend to reach as far west,” Dunion said.
Forecasters said Monday that tropical development was unlikely over the next 10 days.
While hurricane season lasts through Nov. 30, the tropical waves that produce Cape Verde storms tend to diminish by late September, said Bob Henson, a meteorologist for Weather Underground, part of IBM.
“We’ve come past the normal peak and it was an especially sharp peak this year because everything kind of aligned,” Henson said. “It was just a constellation of ingredients that came together and if the formula changes just a little bit, the numbers can drop pretty sharply.”
This year, three hurricanes — Florence, Helene and Isaac — and two tropical storms — Gordon and Joyce — formed between Sept. 1 and Sept. 12.
Weather reporters covering Hurricane Florence no doubt dealt with hammering wind, driving rain, and charging storm surge.
But some people are criticizing what they feel are overly-dramatic reports from the storm.
In one clip, seasoned Weather Channel reporter Mike Seidel is bracing against Florence’s wind in Wilmington, N.C. when two people seemingly stride by behind him with little trouble in the gale.
The Weather Channel defended the experienced meteorologist.
“It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1 a.m. this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted,” it said in a statement.
I find it sick and disturbing to use a natural disaster to boost ratings! I use to have mad respect for the weather channel but knowing what I know now going through it, I am truly disgusted by these actions. https://t.co/6tQj1YS0K3
The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang called out Hurricane Florence reporters in general who it thought were “manufacturing” action, “leaning into 30 mph winds like they are battling a Category 5.”
Deputy Weather Editor Angela Fritz said the drama is “driving me up the wall.”
“Really? There is no need for this,” she wrote in a column. “The wind is not the story here, and everyone knows it because they watched Florence drop in strength before it made landfall.”
Plus, Fritz said, if you are going to lean into the winds of a raging storm (turn your sound down) “do it right.”
In other social media posts, meteorologists were criticized for standing outside in the weather, while admonishing viewers not to do the same.
Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist at ABC News, responded saying she always puts safety first.
Florida Climatologist David Zierden also chimed in, asking if being outside during a storm is any less safe than a football game.
I am a degreed meteorologist and weather nerd. I go outside to watch thunderstorms, outside and windows instead of a safe room for severe weather. I want to see the weather as it happens as a viewer. Is this any less safe than an NFL football game? @Ginger_Zeehttps://t.co/8XA4dsvebT
Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30 and has so far challenged forecasts calling for a below normal season.
Through today, there have been 10 named storms, 53.5 named storm days, five hurricanes, 16 hurricane days and an accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, of 81.4. ACE is a way to measure the strength and duration of storms.
But AccuWeather forecasters aren’t giving up on Isaac making a comeback in the Gulf of Mexico later this week.
“AccuWeather meteorologists are not suggesting that Isaac will turn into another Harvey, which fell apart entering the western Caribbean then rapidly regained strength while moving across the Gulf of Mexico,” forecasters wrote,
The key, according to AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski, will be in how much wind shear Isaac encounters and whether it can avoid interaction with the Yucatan Peninsula.