ST. PETERSBURG, Florida. – The red tide crisis is ruining many people’s plans for a day at the beach in Pinellas County, but thanks to researchers at the University of South Florida, there is a way to watch the red tide forecast for the next few days.
USF researchers take data on the amount of red tide and measure ocean currents to determine where the bloom is going and when.
The map may look like a toddler had fun with a pencil, but the squiggly lines show crucial information about Karenia brevis – or red tide – and where it flows in the bay and gulf.
Red tide prediction map, July 23, 2021 (University of South Florida)
“This provides information on potential hazards of the coastal area where the red tide could be affected,” said USF oceanography researcher Yonggang Liu.
He is part of a team developing the red tide forecast map. He says the lines represent a four and a half day period of red tide concentration and where the blooms are expected to go.
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“Generally what you’re looking for is where are there no cool colors or colors on the map, where are those greens or blues. If you see greens and blues somewhere on a map, it’s probably a good area to go fishing or play,” explained Maya Burke of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
The red lines on the map represent the highest concentrations of red tide. For currents, the black X’s are starting points and the black line following them shows where the current is moving.
“We combine that information with satellite imagery and wind forecasts and all sorts of different things and basically use that to communicate with all of our partners across the entire watershed to stage who needs to be prepared for worsening conditions. , who might need to have contractors ready to remove dead fish,” Burke said.
For this week, there are a lot of red lines in Tampa Bay, moving into the Gulf of Mexico. This brings bad news for this weekend for beachgoers.
Pinellas County issued a warning Friday afternoon. saying that the onshore wind can cause stronger red tide impacts on Pinellas beaches. This means more dead fish and possible respiratory tract irritation.