Offbeat Hurricane Michael may provide temporary reprieve from Florida's historic red tide outbreak
The Latest: Man killed in Florida home by fallen tree
The Latest on Hurricane Michael (all times Eastern):7 p.m.Authorities say a Florida Panhandle man was killed by a falling tree as Hurricane Michael tore through the state.Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower says they received a call around 6 p.m. Wednesday, saying a tree had crashed through the roof of the man's Greensboro home and trapped him. Emergency crews were heading to the home, but downed power lines and blocked roads were making the trip difficult.Officials hadn't immediately confirmed the man's name.
Florida's nearly year-long battle with a harmful toxic algae, known as red tide, has been a costly and smelly headache that has impacted much of the western coast as well as part of the state's east coast.
From wildlife deaths to public health risks and the financial impacts of lost tourism revenue, the red tide has been a thorn in the side of Floridians for much of the last year.
Now, Florida is facing the growing danger from Hurricane Michael, currently barreling toward the state with potentially catastrophic impacts, including storm surge, flooding rain and damaging winds.
280 unaccounted for in Hurricane Michael as FEMA warns 'people do not live to tell the tale' of storm surges
The Red Cross said 320,000 people did not evacuate as category-4 Hurricane Michael approached Florida. Authorities said the fate of about 280 residents is unknown while FEMA said the death toll could rise. Some ignored warnings while others were unable to leave as the storm suddenly intensified.320,000 people did not evacuate the path of Hurricane Michael as it approached the Florida coast, where it went on to devastate the coast and kill at least two people and leave 280 missing.
With Michael churning towards the state, some are wondering whether it could make the red tide problem better or worse. As it turns out, the storm may help mitigate the risk of the toxic algae. For a time, anyway.
Dr. Aileen Marty, the director of the Health Travel Medicine Program at Florida International University, said the storm's winds could actually help break up the ride tide and move it off the coast.
Tropical storms or hurricane tend to disperse the organisms and decrease the risk of the red tide, according to Marty.
"Of course, more organisms will shatter, because they're very fragile anyway, and release toxins, so there might be a temporary, very brief increase in concentration, but it soon [tends] to dissipate. That's usually the impact," she said.
Hurricane Michael: Florida's Bay County, Mexico Beach unsafe to return and 'it’s going to be a long time,' FEMA officials say
Federal officials warned Friday that parts of Florida remain unsafe to return after Hurricane Michael's devastation(Pictured) A family sits by a lantern outside their antique shop during the power outage in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on Oct. 11 in Panama City, Fla.
The storm's powerful winds could help blow the tide away from shore. With Michael still targeting the Florida Panhandle, any potential for the bloom to be broken up will be seen along the state's west coast, where the red tide has been worse, but it may not affect what's happening on the east coast, where the state's annualrecently raised concerns.
Already it is windy on— Jonathan Petramala (@jpetramala) Mandatory Evacuations are being followed by every tourist I have talked to. Another issue as if there needed to be more problems, is making it hard for me to breathe on the beach.
The bloom's largest area extends aboutof Tampa to as far south as Naples in Collier County.
The red tide is made up of Karenia brevis, an organism endemic to the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), current observations in northwestern Florida show "very low to low concentrations in or offshore of Okaloosa County, medium concentrations offshore of Walton County, low to medium concentrations in Bay County, very low to low concentrations in Gulf County, and background to low concentrations in or offshore of Pasco County."
For those without much, Hurricane Michael creates hardship
For people without a lot of money, the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael on the Florida Panhandle is especially devastating. Seventy-two-year-old Mary Frances Parrish is expecting to be without electricity for weeks, roughly the same time the terminally ill son she's caring for is expected to live.She's one of many in the area around Panama City, Florida, whose homes were damaged or destroyed when the powerful hurricane blew ashore on Wednesday.Their damaged homes have no power and no running water, and it could be weeks before utilities are restored.
A case of respiratory irritation was reported this past week in Okalossa County, the FWC stated.
Marty emphasized that the storm passing through will not totally remove the risk for red tide going forward, but it could dissipate the problem for the rest of the year for western coastal areas.
"More likely than not, the hurricane is going to reduce the problem in the west coast, where it's worse, for now," Marty said, adding that environmental conditions, such as warm waters, could allow the algae to return in the future once Michael is gone.
However, one problem the hurricane may create is the flooding which can lead to runoff from agricultural areas, where chemicals such as fertilizers are used. If those chemicals reached the red tide, it could exacerbate the issue.
"[Chemicals] provide the nutrients that help the Karenia reproduce. Chemical runoff has been a big issue for years," Marty said.
President Trump, First Lady to visit storm-ravaged Florida Panhandle .
<p>U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Florida's storm-ravaged Panhandle on Monday, the White House announced, in the president's first tour of the destruction left by the deadly Hurricane Michael.</p>Hurricane Michael was a Category 4 storm when it hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday before weakening as it rolled through Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. Officials report 17 people have been killed and extensive damage is still being assessed.
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