TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — This year’s biggest headlines covered a wide variety of topics from mega-storms to Mega Millions. To celebrate the passage of another year — and round out this year’s biggest stories — WFLA is counting down our top 10 headlines of 2022.
The following original stories were ranked based on their number of views from you, the viewer.
10. Winning ticket for Mega Millions $494M jackpot sold in Florida
Rounding out the bottom of our ‘Top 10’ list was a story of two lucky lottery players, including one winner from Florida, who each took home millions of dollars after successfully matching the numbers drawn during the Oct. 14 Mega Millions drawing.
According to Mega Millions, both ticketholders shared the $494 million jackpot, each taking home $247.9 million.
The drawing was the first jackpot won since someone in Illinois won the $1.337 billion jackpot from the July 29 drawing.
9. Brian Laundrie’s notebook confession, message to Gabby Petito
Following a weeks-long search in a vast Florida nature reserve, investigators located partial remains belonging to then-person of interest Brian Laundrie, who authorities believed may have been connected to the death of missing person Gabby Petito.
Among the items found alongside Laundrie’s remains was a notebook including what appeared to be his confession and explanation for killing his fiancée.
8. Only 1 Florida beach makes list of best in the U.S.
If you were looking to hit one of the nation’s top beaches, you may want to go out of state.
Despite its dozens of white sandy beaches with emerald-colored waters, Florida appeared only once on Travel + Leisure’s list of top 25 beaches in the United States.
The travel magazine ranked Clearwater Beach in Pinellas County as the No. 5 best beach in the U.S. Sand quality, waves, the level of seclusion, accessible parking, and the number of shaded trees factored into the rankings.
7. Snow in Florida? Almanac predicts record-breaking cold
You may want to add a pair of extra thick socks to your holiday shopping list, according to an extended winter weather forecast from the Farmer’s Almanac.
While the first day of winter arrives on Dec. 21, that doesn’t mean cold temperatures and snow storms will wait until then. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, Floridians could expect to see a colder-than-usual winter following an active few weeks in the tropics.
While it’s highly unlikely residents in the Tampa Bay area will need to pick up a snow shovel this year, the Almanac said there is the possibility of some “record-breaking cold temperatures.”
6. How to find your evacuation zone in Tampa Bay Tropical Storm Ian hurricane
Several counties throughout the Tampa Bay area ordered a mandatory evacuation ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall in southwest Florida earlier this year.
Before the storm’s arrival, officials urged residents to have a plan in place should an order to evacuate be given in their community.
Here is where you can find your evacuation zone and information on local shelters.
5. Ticket holder wins $1.28B Mega Millions jackpot
The Mega Millions dominated both local and national headlines earlier this year when the lottery game reached its second-largest jackpot prize in history, totaling $1.337 billion. The all-time record-breaking jackpot prize was sold on Oct. 23, 2018, when a ticket purchased in South Carolina won $1.537 billion.
One lucky person was the sole holder of the jackpot-winning prize selected for the July 29, 2022 drawing.
4. Hurricane Ian expected to bring ‘life-threatening storm surge’
Ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall in the Fort Myers area on Sept. 28, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) provided model data that predicted the hurricane’s track would shift further eastward, putting Sarasota and Charlotte Counties in the direct line of impact.
Experts forecasted the storm would make landfall as a powerful Category 4 storm, with 130 mph sustained winds. However, the NHC later confirmed Ian came ashore near Cayo Costa, with a maximum sustained wind speed of 150 mph, tying the record for the fifth-strongest hurricane on record to strike the United States.
The NHC said Ian was recorded as having a maximum sustained wind speed of 155 mph while over the Gulf of Mexico. The storm was just 2 mph shy of a Category 5 hurricane.
3. Husband, wife lose teaching jobs after community finds explicit OnlyFans account
Two Arizona teachers lost their jobs after their OnlyFans account, which featured a video made in a classroom, was found by students, according to a news report.
The teacher claimed she chose an anonymous name and blocked the entire state of Arizona on the app so her content was not accessible to state residents. However, reports said middle school students managed to find the explicit content and began circulating it amongst themselves.
2. Popular ‘anti-aging’ supplement
A study by the University of Missouri found that taking a popular ‘anti-aging’ supplement increased the chances of brain cancer.
Known for its suggested benefits to metabolism, brain health, and cardiovascular systems, a study found that high quantities of the supplement “could not only increase someone’s risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer, but also could cause the cancer to metastasize or spread to the brain.”
Experts said when cancer reaches the brain, the results are deadly because there aren’t any viable treatments available.
1. Real-time wobble tracker
As Hurricane Ian tracked closer to the Southwest Florida coast in late September, the Max Defender 8 weather team developed a tool to aid with the storm’s real-time tracking. The tool was dubbed the real-time wobble tracker.
The tracker allowed the team to share minute-by-minute movements of the eye wall, and alert viewers if the storm deviated from the NHC’s forecast track.
“The real-time wobble tracker was a huge asset as Ian moved across Florida,” WFLA Chief Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli said. “It showed each wobble and, more importantly, when the storm was deviating away from the forecast.