TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tool to predict harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico is live, and now being used to forecast potential red tide bloom movements and impacts.
The NOAA Red Tide Respiratory Forecast, one of several tools for predicting the blooms, was launched to predict toxic algae blooms and help the public view forecasts in real-time for where they might see red tide conditions on nearby beaches, delivered in three-hour increments during the day.
“We’ve been able to refine our forecasts and offer predictions on a beach-by-beach basis,” said Dr. Richard Stumpf, NOAA-NCCOS Oceanographer who led the forecast development team. “This Forecast is the first step toward reducing the health and economic impacts of red tides for coastal communities. By letting people know where and when onshore respiratory impacts are expected, red tide becomes more of an inconvenience than a crisis.”
According to NOAA, the risk-level forecast covers 30 of Florida’s west coast beaches, as well as beaches in the state of Texas. The forecast is part of a NOAA-National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science national Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting System, used by coastal resource managers to lessen the impact of red tide and other toxic blooms on local communities.
“Red tide impacts can be really variable because of wind patterns,” said Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, Executive Director of GCOOS and an environmental health scientist who conducted the first studies documenting the impacts of Florida red tide blooms on human health. “They can use this tool the same way they use other weather reports.”
Kirkpatrick says the Red Tide Respiratory Forecast will allow people see where the beaches in their communities might be impacted by red tide and when, letting them plan beach walks and other activities around the forecast.