About this Product: Experimental Red Tide Respiratory Forecast
This experimental product provides a risk-level forecast for red tide respiratory impacts on each of Pinellas County’s beaches. The 24-hour Experimental Red Tide Respiratory Forecasts are updated every three hours, following the collection and analysis of water samples. The forecast is typically available on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Human respiratory impacts happen when the Florida red tide organism, K. brevis, is present and winds blow onshore or alongshore. Most people experience minor respiratory irritation – coughing, sneezing, teary eyes and an itchy throat — when red tide is present and winds are blowing onshore. These symptoms go away when they leave the beach.
But people with chronic lung problems like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can have severe reactions when they breathe in airborne red tide toxins — even ending up in the emergency room. Health officials advise that these people avoid red tide areas altogether and take all medications as prescribed, including having access to rescue inhalers. People with chronic lung disease should leave the beach if they begin experiencing respiratory problems, even if red tide is at very low or low concentrations.
Who is this product for?
Gulf Coast residents and visitors who want to know if the beach they are planning to visit is being impacted by Florida red tide. Resource managers and researchers will also find this information helpful.
The Experimental Red Tide Forecast is provided in three-hour increments projected out over a 24-hour period and includes other details like wind speed and direction. It lists the risk level as:
- Absent/Very low: Meaning there is a low risk of irritation among most beachgoers but that people with lung disease should leave the area if they begin feeling impacts.
- Low: A low risk of irritation among most beachgoers but that people with lung disease should leave the area if they begin feeling impacts.
- Moderate: Moderate risk of irritation for most people; people with lung disease should avoid this area.
- High: High risk of irritation for most people; people with lung disease should avoid this area.
How was this tool developed?
In 2004, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service (NOAA-NOS) and partners started issuing twice-weekly condition reports and bulletins that identified the risk of respiratory irritation for three-to-four-day periods on a county-by-county level. The information is now released through the National Weather Service’s regular Beach Hazard Statement alerts.
This new Experimental Red Tide Respiratory Forecast builds on NOAA’s condition reports and bulletins by providing information at a finer scale — at the beach level, not just the county level.
This experimental forecast was developed by NOAA’s National Ocean Service in partnership with GCOOS, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC-FWRI) and Pinellas County Environmental Management. The forecast was developed through funding from the NASA Health and Air Quality Program and is hosted by GCOOS.