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A new tool predicts red tide levels in Pinellas County. Manatee County and others could be next.

Red tide hit hard on Anna Maria Island

Since August, red tide has strongly impacted sea life, business, tourism and the environment on Anna Maria Island.
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Since August, red tide has strongly impacted sea life, business, tourism and the environment on Anna Maria Island.

Pinellas County has a new, experimental tool that forecasts red tide levels up to a day in advance.

Called the Experimental Red Tide Respiratory Forecast, the tool displays a map of the county with markers for prominent beaches. Clicking on a marker allows users to view the risk of red tide at a specific beach.

The model projects red tide levels as “none,” “low,” “moderate” or “high.” The forecasts are broken into three hour increments and project more than 24 hours in advance.

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A new tool called the Experimental Red Tide Respiratory Forecast allows Pinellas County residents to view daily red tide forecasts for specific beaches. Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System

The project is a collaboration between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NOAA-NCCOS), the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Pinellas County Environmental Management.

The creators are looking for more places to introduce the experimental tool.

People who are interested in having their county included can fill out a brief online survey titled “Please Bring the Experimental Red Tide Respiratory Forecast to My County.”

Survey-takers are asked to provide an email address, zip code and county and answer the questions “Do you have a chronic lung condition?” and “How many times did you visit the beach last year?”

The tool’s forecasts are produced through a combination of current wind forecasts from the National Weather Service and K. brevis cell counts taken by Pinellas County Environmental Management, according to a fact sheet.

The website makes it clear that the tool is still in the testing stage. Users must acknowledge a disclaimer before accessing it.

“This experimental forecast is currently being tested for efficacy and is not yet an official forecast,” it reads in part.

Despite that, Pinellas officials are already finding it useful.

“Everyone is unique, but this is a much better picture of what you might experience when you go out there,” Division Director of Pinellas County Environmental Management Kelli Levy told Bay News 9.

Find out more at habscope.gcoos.org.

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