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  • Writer's pictureMel Dick

Manatees and Hurricane Eta!!!

We were sitting at a marina on Stock Island two days ago having beers when Claudia mentioned there was something in the water. From a distance it appeared to be a tire along the dock to protect boats. The tire kept disappearing and reappearing...which I attributed to waves and maybe one too many beers. Turns out the tire was really a baby manatee and it's family. We had a great time watching the manatees as they slowly swam around and under the marina docks.

The Florida manatee is a large, slow-moving marine mammal with an elongated, round body and paddle-shaped flippers and tail. Manatees are herbivores, feeding solely on seagrass, algae and other vegetation. They are mammals, they breathe air, have warm blood, and produce milk. Florida manatees can be found as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts during summer months, but during the winter, manatees congregate in Florida, as they require warm-water habitats to survive. Due to their slow speed and relatively high buoyancy, manatees are often struck by vessels, a primary cause of deaths of the species.

It basically rained all day yesterday and continues today as a result of tropical storm Eta which is now forecasted to become Hurricane Eta as it passes over Cuba and takes direct aim on the Florida Keys. Some weather models have it becoming a category 1+ hurricane and directly hitting Key West. Knowing virtually nothing about hurricanes we have been watching The Weather Channel 24/7. We have stocked up on supplies (pictured above) and are prepared to wait out the storm like everyone else in Key West. Winds are forecast to be at hurricane strength, rain of 10+ inches, flooding and potential storm surges of 2-4 feet. It is currently raining very hard and very windy.

Hurricanes, also known as cyclones are tropical cyclones that is a rotating low-pressure weather system that has organized thunderstorms but no fronts (a boundary separating two air masses of different densities). Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 miles per hour (mph) are called tropical depressions. Those with maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher are called tropical storms. When a storm's maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is called a hurricane. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating, or category, based on a hurricane's maximum sustained winds. The higher the category, the greater the hurricane's potential for property damage.

"Hurricane Season" begins on June 1 and ends on November 30, although hurricanes can, and have, occurred outside of this time frame. Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, the eastern North Pacific Ocean, and, less frequently, the central North Pacific Ocean. A six-year rotating list of names, updated and maintained by the World Meteorological Organization, is used to identify these storms. Tropical storm Eta is the 28th "named" storm of the 2020 season.

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