29 August 2023

Hurricane Idalia update... plus - Weekly briefing - 29 August 2023

Human-curated Florida Keys news, all in one place. 

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Hurricane Idalia

Idalia intensified to a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Frequent updates are being issued by the National Hurricane CenterYou should always make decisions based on current official forecasts, not static information or word of mouth. Here are key messages as of Tuesday morning:


Hurricane Idalia Advisory Number  11
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL       AL102023
400 AM CDT Tue Aug 29 2023

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for... * Lower Florida Keys west of the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge.

  • Keys schools, government offices remain open. Florida Keys schools and government offices will remain open on Tuesday, Aug. 29, but a tropical storm warning remains in place for the Dry Tortugas area and a tropical storm watch for the Lower Florida Keys. (Citizen)
  • No evacuation orders. The Keys were under a tropical storm watch on Monday. Impacts may include flash flooding due to rain and storm surge, amplified by king tides happening as the storm passes. 
  • Storm briefing. National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Rizzo briefed Keys governments, schools, law enforcement and hospital officials on Tropical Storm Idalia on Monday morning. The hurricane is expected to pass at least 300 miles to the west of Key West. A "messy rain squall" on the east side of the tropical storm will bring an estimated 1 to 3 inches of rain, with the possibility of higher amounts in isolated areas. (Citizen)
  • Florida-wide impact. Per the National Weather Service, "there is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation along portions of the Florida Gulf Coast where a Storm Surge Warning is in effect, including Tampa Bay and the Big Bend region of  Florida. Inundation of 7 to 11 feet above ground level is expected somewhere between Chassahowitzka and Aucilla River. 

Our Community - Weekly briefing

Jacksonville shooting. A 52-year-old woman who was born and raised in Key West was one of three Black people fatally shot Saturday at a Dollar General Store in Jacksonville, Florida, by a white man on a racist rampage. The shooter killed himself at the scene. (Keys Weekly)

Court consolidation.
Failing grade. The Keys again received a failing grade for the carrying capacity on U.S. 1, which could result in a prohibition on new commercial development. Coupled with the recent FKAA water main line breaks and reduced water pressure into the Florida Keys, Last Stand said that the travel study is another example that the chain of islands has reached its carrying capacity. (Citizen)
  • Water rate increase? The City of Key West included a notice in monthly water bills advising rate-payers of a proposed 3% increase in water rates. This follows a reduction in system-wide water pressure necessitated following a series of water main breaks earlier this year. A public hearing will be held at 5:00 p.m. at City Hall on 7 September. (Not yet officially posted)
A FIRM no. Thanks in part to lobbying by Monroe County advocate Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM), the state blocked Citizens' latest property insurance rate increase. (Citizen)

Rick Worth recovering. Well-known and widely-appreciated Key West artist Rick Worth was recovering from a 13 August stroke. Locals raised money to help him out. (Keys Weekly)

Drag queen running for House District 120. Michael Travis, who performs as “Erika Rose” in Key West, filed to challenge Republican incumbent, Rep. Jim Mooney in Monroe County’s House District 120. (Florida Politics)

Confiscated. A Florida prison confiscated a copy of the Key West Citizen because in included a feature that "may be used to create coded messages indecipherable by staff.”

Compelling census data. Linda Cunningham gleaned compelling facts about the Keys from U.S. Census data and lamented the trends they revealed. (Key West Island News)

Bee careful. A swarm of angry bees was unleashed after a bad decision by a resident near the Triangle intersection. Nearby hotels were evacuated. (Keys Weekly)

Driveway moments. Mark Hedden wrote about panic-inducing white-crowned pigeons. (Keys Weekly)

Our Eyes

‘Self Portrait’ by Rick Worth. JAG GALLERY/Contributed

Previously in Key West Voices

Capacities Constrained 
Violations. Monroe County reported in a press release that more than 1,900 structures in unincorporated Monroe County may not comply with FEMA standards for downstairs enclosures, and submitted a plan of action to research the structures to determine if violations exist. Insurance rates countywide could be adversely impacted. (Keys Weekly)

Aldi Winns. The German supermarket chain Aldi purchased Winn-Dixie as part of a 400-store deal expected to close in early 2024. The branding of some stores may be retained, but the fate of Keys Winn-Dixie stores has not yet been announced. (New York Times, Miami Herald)

Voter registration. The Monroe County Supervisor of Elections reached out to voters to remind them to check their vote-by-mail (VBM) registration. Previously, a VBM request was good for two federal elections, but under state law passed after the 2020 election, all requests expired in December 2022 and new ones must be made for each election cycle. Visit the supervisor's web site to be sure you can vote by mail next year. (Citizen)

Prothonotary. Mark Hedden taught us about a lovely yellow warbler after seeing a few at the Botanical Garden, including how to pronounce its name. (Keys Weekly)

26 August 2023

Special Alert - Possible storm forming - 25 August 2023

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The National Weather Service is tracking a disturbance in the western Caribbean. In its 8:00 p.m. Friday report (ignore map below; click here for the latest report) they said (emphasis added):

1. Northwestern Caribbean Sea and Eastern Gulf of Mexico (AL93):
Shower and thunderstorm activity has increased since yesterday in 
association with an area of low pressure over the northwestern 
Caribbean Sea. Environmental conditions appear conducive for further 
development of this system during the next several days, and a 
tropical depression is likely to form late this weekend or early 
next week while it moves generally northward over the eastern Gulf 
of Mexico. Interests in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, western 
Cuba, and Florida should monitor the progress of this system.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...medium...50 percent.
* Formation chance through 7 days...high...80 percent.

This map is from 8:00 p.m. EDT Friday evening,
and is not current. Click the map to see the most current version.