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A Florida hiker recently stumbled across a slithering surprise — a rare snake that hadn't been spotted in the area for more than 50 years.
By Risa Palm and Toby W. Bolsen
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By John R. Platt and Dipika Kadaba
Florida manatees had another deadly year in 2019.
An estimated 531 manatees died in Florida waters in the past 12 months. That's a significant decrease from the number of deaths in 2018, when 824 manatees died, but it still represents a nearly 10 percent loss to their population in the state.
Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.
The last red tide in Florida lasted 15 months — pictured here at Bean Point Beach. TriggerPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Native North Americans first arrived in Florida approximately 14,550 years ago. Evidence for these stone-tool-wielding, megafauna-hunting peoples can be found at the bottom of numerous limestone freshwater sinkholes in Florida's Panhandle and along the ancient shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for every county in the state Thursday as it prepares for what could be the strongest hurricane to hit its East Coast since Andrew in 1992, CNN reported.
Dorian, currently a Category 2 hurricane, is forecast to make landfall on Florida's East Coast as a Category 4 storm Labor Day with winds of around 130 miles per hour. However, it is not clear exactly where on the coast the storm will make landfall: It could be anywhere between the Florida Keys and southeast Georgia.
"Dorian is likely to remain an extremely dangerous hurricane while it moves near the northwestern Bahamas and approaches the Florida peninsula through the weekend," the National Hurricane Center warned on Friday.
Here are the 5 AM AST/EDT August 30 Key Messages for Hurricane #Dorian. A prolonged period of hazardous weather conditions that could last for a couple of days is possible across parts of Florida early next week. Visit https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB for more info. pic.twitter.com/5n4nGwYNfB— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 30, 2019
There were concerns earlier in the week that Dorian would wreak havoc on Puerto Rico, still recovering from Hurricane Maria nearly two years ago. But the storm brushed past the island Wednesday causing minimal damage, HuffPost reported. Dorian instead battered St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where winds of around 110 miles per hour blew the roofs off of houses.
However, what was good news for Puerto Rico could spell trouble for Florida. Because the storm was not weakened passing over the mountains of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, it is now in a position to intensify, CBS News explained. One reason it is likely to do so is that it will pass over water 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit on its way to Florida, and water warmer than 80 degrees tends to strengthen storms.
UPDATE: NOAA’s #GOES16 shows #HurricaneDorian pushing away from #PuertoRico and the #VI into the open Atlantic this afternoon. The red circle indicates the center of circulation of #Dorian. Get more from @NHC_Atlantic. pic.twitter.com/hvKZz7kL3g— NOAA Satellites PA (@NOAASatellitePA) August 29, 2019
The storm is now predicted to blow over the Bahamas Sunday and then make landfall in Florida Monday, The New York Times reported. But Florida could begin feeling winds of at least 39 miles per hour by Saturday night. The storm is predicted to dump four to eight inches of rain on the Sunshine State. Forecasters are also worried about the potential for flooding caused by storm surges.
"All Floridians really need to monitor Hurricane Dorian," DeSantis said Thursday morning, as The New York Times reported. He advised residents to store up seven days' worth of food and medical supplies.
Floridians appeared to take him at his word. In a Facebook post Wednesday, Brooke Koontz shared photos of empty shelves at a Walmart in Port Orange, Florida, as CNN reported. She said that at one point employees brought out a pallet of water bottles.
"It was gone in seconds," she told CNN. "People were trying to race."
"It's very important for me to be here," he told reporters Thursday. "[It] looks like it could be a very, very big one. I have decided to send our vice-president, Mike Pence, to Poland this weekend in my place."
If forecasts are correct and Dorian hits Florida, it will be the fourth year in a row that a hurricane has hit the state, the most consecutive hurricane years since the 1940s, CNN reported. Last year's Hurricane Michael was the strongest to ever hit the Florida panhandle, and meteorologist Eric Holthaus noted that the state has never before faced two such strong landfalls two years in a row.
"We are in a climate emergency," he tweeted.