TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In this week’s Climate Classroom, local mom Cameron Hunt McNabb joins WFLA’s Chief Meteorologist and Climate Specialist to discuss how climate change is impacting the Tampa Bay area.
Cameron is a fourth-generation Tampa Bay resident and mom of a 5-year-old daughter. She is especially concerned about how this will impact her daughter’s quality of life.
Will she be able to stroll along Bayshore Boulevard decades from now? Will she be able to afford home insurance? Will she be able to be the fifth generation that stays in the area?
Here are three main takeaways from this week’s episode:
WFLA’s Chief Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli said the effects of climate change are already impacting our next generation.
“We are starting to feel the consequences already, but it is our children that are going to bear the burden of the inadvertent mistakes that we have made in the past.”
He pointed to rising sea temperatures as a prime example of climate change. Data collected over the last 50 years shows warming is greatest during the winter months when winter water temperatures rose about 1 degree over the course of 10 years.
“Record highs are outpacing record lows around the world about 3-1,” Berardelli said. “All-time record highs — the highs it’s ever been at any one city — those are outpacing the record lows by 9-1.”
Meteorologists often rely on so-called “Danger Days” as a measure of climate change. Danger days are times when the heat index in Tampa rises above 105 degrees.
“Back in 1985, we used to average about 14 days per year where the heat index was over 105 degrees,” Berardelli said. “Now we average about a month and a half (46 days) where at one point in the afternoon the heat indices will go over 105 degrees.”
Fast forward to 2050, Berardelli said he expects 80 danger days. By 2080, the Tampa Bay area is expected to reach 97 danger days per year.
“I worry about how inhabitable or how will my daughter want to put up with that climate in the future,” Cameron said.
Sea level rise
Berardelli also pointed to rising sea levels as evidence of climate change.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts sea levels will rise about 14 inches in the Tampa Bay area over the course of 30 years.
“So in 30 years, we’ll have another 14 inches. What does that mean? Most of Tampa Bay will still be in Tampa Bay,” Berardelli said. “We’re going to get a lot more nuisance overspill on Bayshore Boulevard.”
But by 2080, models suggest rising sea levels could put most of coastal Pinellas County and Davis Islands underwater.
Watch the full episode in the player above.