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Date of Issue: June 15, 2006

Sandscript

New hurricane forecast out; 'very active' still watchword

The Mystery Florida: A Conference To Die For, Chapter 2 is over, and it appears to have been a huge success - at least that was what the authors, readers and fans all said. The glitches always associated with trying to throw a party for 60 people were minor, luck was running with us and a few potential nightmares were merely bad dreams.

In fact, we're already thinking about next year's event.

As you can see from the goofy picture, there were a lot of happy people there - and the picture is of just some of the authors that attended.

A special thanks to Bradenton Beach developer David Teitlebaum for sponsorship, as well as The Islander.

Hope to see you next year.

 

Hurricane forecast

The latest forecast for the 2006 hurricane season has been released, and the numbers remain in the "very active" category.

Phil Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray at Colorado State University have announced that "the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season will be much more active than the average 1950-2000 season. We estimate that 2006 will have about nine hurricanes (average is 5.9), 17 named storms (average is 9.6), 85 named storm days (average is 49.1), 45 hurricane days (average is 24.5), five intense hurricanes of at least Category 3 stature (average is 2.3) and 13 intense hurricane days (average is five).

The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 60 percent above the long-period average, the pair added. "We expect Atlantic basin net tropical cyclone activity in 2006 to be about 195 percent of the long-term average."

The latest report by Klotzbach and Gray, issued May 31, echoes other forecasters in the season's intensity. What makes their report a little different is the use of what they call an "extended range statistical forecast procedure, which utilizes 52 years of past global reanalysis data" or, they take current global weather patterns, look back at what happened in the past 52 years to find similar conditions, and use that data in crunching the forecast.

Think of it as looking at history to predict the future.

 

Hurricane nutrition guide?

A hurricane has sideswiped the Island. Power is out. It's hot, you're sweaty, bugs are everywhere, and it's time for some comfort food. Break out the Twinkies and Doritos, and the heck with eating smart.

Wrong, says a nutritional expert from the Unversity of Florida.

"If there's no power or running water for cooking, a steady diet of candy, chips and take-out fast foods might seem appealing, not to mention easy, but focusing on healthy foods will help you weather the crisis better," said Linda Bobroff, a professor with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

"Good nutrition is especially important when you're recovering from a disaster," she said. "To cope with high levels of physical activity and discomfort, you need to provide your body with appropriate amounts of all the nutrients, including water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals."

Remember that food and water for seven days is what Island officials are advising us to have on hand.

Bobroff suggests that you try the food you've stockpiled before you stockpile it to make sure everybody can eat it.

"If you don't like canned spinach now," she said, "you won't want to eat it when your roof is leaking and a tree is down in your yard."

Good advice.

 Bobroff also suggests to look for items that can be consumed in a single meal or stored safely without refrigeration, once opened. Take advantage of coupons and store specials, but only if you really need the items. Most important, always shop with a plan in mind.

I'm still stocking up on Twinkies.

 

Another threat from global warming: More itchy ivy

Increased carbon-monoxide levels due to global warming could cause poison ivy to grow faster and be more toxic to humans, according to a study in the online edition of Nature.

A group of researchers out of Woods Hole, Mass., sprayed carbon-monoxide gas on three plots of land in North Carolina that was thick with poison ivy. The plants were exposed to about half-again the gas found in nature. After six years of spraying, not only had the ivy grown like crazy - about twice as fast as normal - but it had also packed more urushiol poison into its leaves.

Urushiol is the chemical in poison ivy that is irritating to humans. The "super ivy" had about 150 percent more of the chemical it its leaves than the untreated plants.

 

Manatee, eagle changes coming up this week?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is scheduled to address reclassification of manatees and bald eagles when they meet later this week in West Palm Beach.

On tap is "the final phase of reclassifying manatees from endangered to threatened, and to remove bald eagles from the imperiled species list," according to the FWC.

The agency has received data in the past few years that indicate that both species have experienced enough of a population increase that they don't rate the more-stringent status.

FWC officials are quick to point out that if the change in status does occur, the next step would be to create species-management plans to ensure protection measures continue to match species' needs.

"Classification changes reflect changes in species' vulnerability to extinction, but they do not alter protection measures, which scientists detail in species-management plans," according to FWC officials.

Commissioners will also discuss reclassifying the Panama City crayfish and gopher tortoise from species of special concern to threatened.

 

Sandscript factoid

Poison ivy, by the way, causes an estimated 350,000 reported cases of skin rashes each year in the United States. Around 80 percent of people react to the toxin, and their reaction tends to get worse the more frequently they are exposed to it. There is no immunity from repeated poison ivy exposure.

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