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Cold snaps play small role in combating red tide, scientists say

Posted at 9:04 PM, Nov 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-14 13:21:26-05

The toxic red tide plaguing more than 150 miles of Florida coastline is a disaster that just won’t go away.

Colder temperatures do help slow the blooms, but NOAA scientist Edward Davis tells ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska the concentrations are so high it will take cold snaps and a change in winds throughout the entire winter season leading into next spring to hopefully kill off the toxic bloom.

The latest red tide update from Pinellas County shows that crews are still cleaning up dead fish washing ashore but forecast models continue to show currents and weather conditions pushing the bloom farther south and away from Pinellas this weekend.

That is good news for Pinellas County right now. But, a large and intense bloom is still sitting just south of Pinellas.

The 10th annual Sanding Ovations Master Cup for sand sculpting kicked off at Treasure Island Beach Friday night to bone-chilling temps, for Florida standards. 

“I think this cold weather should snap a little bit of the red tide, because last week, there was a little bit of a brisk smell here but it’s gone,” Bill Uhler a vendor selling funnel cakes at the festival said. “I think everyone is just getting used to it and taking nature in stride.”

The cold temperature won’t be enough to knock out the red tide completely. But, Davis said seasonal winds, coupled with cooler waters, could be the key to taking the toxic bloom out to sea where it could die. This red tide’s persisted off our coast since Oct. 2017. The bloom survived Winter and reignited in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the spring.

“It’s tough because every day is different,” Treasure Island resident Donna Allard said. “Some days you can come to the beach and it’s perfectly fine and it seems like a couple of days later red tide is back.”

To track what beaches are impacted by red tide click this link.