Assessing the 2014 Ecological and Environmental Impacts During a Cold Air Outbreak in Florida Applying Lessons Learned From 2010

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 4:00 PM
229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Todd P. Barron, NOAA/NWS, Ruskin, FL; and R. J. Davis and C. H. Paxton

Session: Major Weather Events and Societal Impacts of 2014

Assessing the 2014 Ecological and Environmental Impacts During a Cold Air Outbreak in Florida Applying Lessons Learned From 2010

Todd P Barron, Richard J Davis and Charles H Paxton NOAA/NWS, Tampa Bay Area Florida

During the winter of 2010/2011, Florida's sensitive ecosystems and agriculture were seriously impacted during a potent cold air outbreak. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported high numbers of rescues and mortality of cold sensitive species including sea turtles, manatees, and snook. Additionally, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection observed a significant increase in sinkhole activity across the state linked to agricultural water pumping during the record cold winter. Recognizing these weather related impacts from core partners, the NWS Tampa Bay Area Weather Forecast Office (TBW) greatly expanded decision support services to address a key concept from the NWS Weather Ready Nation roadmap - to shift from a product focused service to interpretation and consultation services. To meet this challenge, TBW has taken a highly proactive approach of engaging core partners in the ecological and environmental communities. This has led to the development of mutual trust and understanding, especially when communicating the risk of high impact weather events. During a cold air outbreak in January of 2014, decision makers from FWC were provided with the latest high-resolution forecasts and services for the potential weather impacts on marine wildlife rescues and crew safety. The environmental impacts from this particular cold air outbreak were well-forecast and communicated based in similar impacts from the 2010 cold air outbreak. Conditions that favored the cold air outbreak in 2010 included large scale atmospheric patterns, such as the ongoing El Nino, strongly negative Arctic Oscillation (AO), and synoptic patterns favorable for increased arctic cold front frequency. Recognition of these features helped to deliver timely impact-weather briefings to the appropriate users.

This presentation will compare the large-scale and synoptic features that led to the record cold 2010 and 2014 winters and the subsequent ecological and environment impacts in Florida. Additionally, lessons learned in 2010 and how WFO Tampa Bay provided enhanced decision support services during the 2014 winter will be discussed.