The environment is deeply linked with this community’s economic prospects. Visit Pensacola, the area’s tourism development and promotion agency noted that the area’s natural resources are among its chief strengths in the tourism market.

But this community has mixed environmental legacy. Investigating a massive fill kill in Escambia Bay was one of the first projects the newly created U.S. Environmental Protection Agency undertook. In 1999, an environmental grand jury was convened in Escambia County. The report that panel issued found that the air and water quality of this community were degraded by industry discharges including a sewage treatment plant on the waterfront, a pulp and paper mill, chemical factories and stormwater runoff.

It also found that state and local governments failed to properly protect those environmental assets.

In 2004, the City of Pensacola instituted a stormwater fee to create a designated revenue stream for projects to better treat stormwater. Later that decade, the community and local government rallied to find the funding to move the Main Street Wastewater treatment plant out of downtown. That opened the door to redevelopment of downtown that continues to this day.

The lawful management of these resources, and the efforts to restore them to a healthy status is important to the Pensacola area’s quality of life and future economic growth.


A good July 4 for us, not so much for our East Coast friends

The weather for Northwest Florida looks good through the July 4 weekend. High temperatures in the low 90s and 20 percent chance of rain are on tap for the next few days. It doesn’t look good for residents of the east coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. All eyes are on a storm brewing in the Atlantic off the east coast of Florida. At 4:30 p.m. Monday, the area of low pressure has an 80 percent chance to develop into the first named storm, “Arthur,”  of the 2014 hurricane season. Hurricane hunter aircraft are flying reconnaissance into the low pressure off West Palm Beach. All relevant hurricane forecasting computer models are showing a consistent track moving north that hugs the coastlines of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas through the July 4 weekend. Computer models that forecast how strong this storm may get, are showing a strong tropical storm or a weak Category 1 hurricane gaining strength around Thursday or Friday. Rough waters for boaters and beach erosion are expected for the east coast of the U.S. during the next few days. It’s highly unlikely we will be impacted by this storm, but don’t let your guard down as we get deeper into the hurricane season. This is a perfect time to stock up on batteries, and learn if you are in an evacuation zone, or where the closest shelter is to your home. MUST HAVE BOOKMARKS ESCAMBIA COUNTY: www.myescambia.com/beready SANTA ROSA COUNTY: www.santarosa.fl.gov/hurricanecenter This article originally appeared on Progress+Promise. Read full story


Are the tropics heating up?

I track hurricanes. I’ve been doing it for decades and I’m pretty good at it. I have pulled together a Hurricane Guide, in one form or another, for over 20 years. For the past few days, computer models have been hinting at a tropical system developing in the Gulf and landing in the Panhandle. The Global Forecast System is a global computer model run by the US National Weather Service. It is run four times a day and metrologists looks for trends to factor into their forecasts. Never look at one model run for the answer. On Thursday, the GFS model showed a landfall near Pensacola, Monday, June 9. But there is no reason to panic. And here’s why: 1. Computer models are not reliable 10 days out. FACT: Last year, the upgraded models over-developed storm formation. 2. Storms are often shown to impact this area, and then don’t. FACT: You WANT your area targeted first, because the path often moves. 3. Storms that form during the first part of June are mostly weak. What you really need to know Always follow the advice and recommendations of our local Emergency Management Offices. Both offices in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties are staffed with top-notch folks who are looking after you, even when you don’t know it. Find this year’s shelters, evacuation zones and routes, and more at their websites. Escambia County: www.myescambia.com/beready Santa Rosa County: www.santarosa.fl.gov/emergency The season ahead The Atlantic Hurricane Season starts Sunday, June 1 and goes to Nov. 30. For the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predict between eight and 13 named storms. Another way to think about it, storm names up to Marco may be used this season. Three to six of the storms could become hurricanes including one or two major hurricanes. Atlantic storm names with pronunciations Arthur Bertha Cristobal Dolly Edouard Fay Gonzalo Hanna Isaias Josephine Kyle Laura Marco Nana Omar Paulette Rene Sally Teddy Vicky Wilfred SOURCE: www.nhc.noaa.gov 2014 Hurricane Citywide Disaster Preparedness Day May 31, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Community Maritime Park. The 2014 Hurricane Citywide Disaster Preparedness Day is free and open to the public. Emergency responders and other disaster relief personnel will be on hand to help you learn how to be prepared. For more information, contact: Henry Hawkins at (850) 232-3230 Dianne Pugh at (850) 450-3640, Darryl Hawkins at (850) 748-3138. SOURCE: www.cityofpensacola.com Sales Tax Holiday: 2014 Hurricane Season  The holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 31, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 8. During this holiday period, qualifying items related to hurricane preparedness are exempt from sales tax. Qualifying Items Selling for $10 or less:  Reusable ice (reusable ice packs) Selling for $20 or less: Any portable self-powered light source Battery-powered flashlights Battery-powered lanterns Gas-powered lanterns (including propane, kerosene, lamp oil, or similar fuel) Tiki-type torches Candles Selling for $25 or less:  Any gas or diesel fuel container (including LP gas and kerosene containers) Selling for $30 or less: Batteries, including rechargeable batteries and excluding automobile and boat batteries (listed sizes only) AA-cell C-cell D-cell 6-volt 9-volt Coolers (food-storage; nonelectrical) Ice chests (food-storage; nonelectrical) Self-contained first-aid kit Selling for $50 or less: Tarpaulins (tarps) Visqueen, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths, and other flexible waterproof sheeting Ground anchor systems. Tie-down kits Bungee cords Ratchet straps Radios (self-powered or battery-powered) Two-way radios (self-powered or battery-powered) Weather band radios (self-powered or battery-powered) Selling for $750 or less:  Portable generators that will be used to provide light, communications, or to preserve food in the event of a power outage. SOURCE: http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/taxes/pdf/hurricanelist.pdf This article originally appeared on Progress+Promise. Read full story


How April 29 storms unfolded

The National Weather Service in Mobile released its look at how the massive rain event of April 29-30 unfolded: The storm developed ahead of a slow moving cold front  associated with a powerful low pressure system in the Plains, on Tuesday evening over portions of coastal Alabama and the western Panhandle. “The widespread flooding produced sinkholes (some very large and deep), cut roads in half and necessitated human water rescues (one confirmed fatality),” the forecast reads. The storms also came during a time when rainfall totals for the past two weeks and 30 days prior were 200 to 600 percent of normal, the release states. “Many folks throughout the area have compared this event to the extreme flooding impacts caused by Hurricane Danny (1997),” it continues. There were two predominant rounds of storms, the first occurred Monday night (28 April) and into the early morning hours when significant flash flooding occurred over coastal Alabama and the western Panhandle. Some 3-8” occurred in association with the first event ending 7 a.m. on April 29. The second and more significant event occurred during the evening hours of 29 April. In that  group of storms, some 10-15” fell in an estimated nine hours and caused “disastrous flooding” throughout the area.  Weather Service reporting sites at the airports in Mobile and Pensacola received some record rainfall. Mobile saw 11.24″ during the calendar day; the third greatest total on record. Data there goes back to 1871, the weather service says. Pensacola airport saw at least 11.13″; some data was lost during an hourlong power outage between 10 and 11 p.m., so actual amounts would have been higher. “As it stands without the extra rainfall, this is their fourth greatest calendar day total on record. PNS rainfall data goes back to 1879.” “Of interest in the PNS total is the 5.68″ that fell in 1 hour between 02Z-03Z.” The NOAA HDSC Precipitation Frequency map shows this to be a 1 in 200 year to 1 in 500 year one hourly amount. The 24-hour amount is about a 1 in 25 year event, as is the total for Mobile. This article originally appeared on Progress+Promise. Read full story