Jacksonville, FL — Thu., April 22nd - Earth Day, 2021.
Patty Scott from St. Augustine, a member of the Citizens4SmartGrowth, a nonprofit organization in St Johns County that is concerned with protecting our quality of life and natural resources in NE FL. offers this insight:
Every year on April 22nd, our nation celebrates Earth Day, which marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Young people may not know much about this tumultuous time. Approximately 20 million Americans — 10% of the total population of the US at the time— held organized protests to demonstrate against the growing legacy of air, water and land pollution that was sickening people and killing birds and other wildlife.
The first Earth Day prompted swift action. In 1972, Congress enacted the Clean Water Act, the landmark law credited with tackling the most egregious sources of water pollution. Direct discharges from sewage plants and toxic chemicals from industrial sources were largely controlled thanks to a strict EPA permitting program.
Despite tremendous progress over the last half century, serious challenges remain. Polluted stormwater runoff is now one of the greatest threats to Florida’s rivers, lakes, beaches and aquifers. Every time it rains, pollutants, such as fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals, wash off our lawns and driveways into our storm drains and waterways. This runoff is sometimes called “personal pollution” since it reflects the cumulative impact of many individual, and sometimes careless, actions.
This Earth Day, take a moment to reflect on how you can make a difference.
One place to start is by changing attitudes about green, well-manicured lawns. The fertilizers, pesticides and water needed to sustain residential landscapes, especially turf grass, endanger the water we all depend on for drinking and swimming. Excess fertilizers “feed” harmful algal blooms that turn waters pea green, close beaches, kill marine life, and threaten drinking water supplies.
We can all help by adopting more sustainable landscaping practices.
Florida-Friendly Landscaping allows rainwater to soak in and infiltrate into plant beds and vegetation, rather than runoff into storm drains. Selecting “the right plant for the right place,” can minimize and even eliminate the need for fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation!
Native Florida plants also help birds and pollinators. And on top of that, you can save $$ on your water bill by eliminating turf and selecting drought-tolerant native plants. Did you know that 50% of most Floridians daily water use goes to their lawns and gardens? This is an exorbitant and unacceptable waste of our most precious natural resource.
Some Florida communities have saved tens of thousands of dollars annually by changing to Florida-Friendly. Sometimes it can be as simple as reducing the number of times per week that landscapes are watered. And residents can often lower water bills by turning off sprinklers during rain and by using rain sensors and other “smart” devices. The St Johns River Water Management District’s WaterLessFlorida has tips for everyone on how to conserve water and save money!
Builders and developers can be leaders in the area of water conservation and green infrastructure. Generation Homes and McGarvey Residential Communities in St Augustine, for example, are committed to saving water and creating vibrant, low-water use landscaping for homes and neighborhoods.
By reducing irrigation, aquifers are spared hundreds of thousands of gallons of fresh water depletion, and the environment is spared contamination from nutrients and chemical pollutants.
All watersheds are ultimately connected to each other and to the underground aquifers and groundwater that supply most of Florida’s drinking water. So what you do in your yard affects everyone and everything downstream. So if you love your beautiful Florida beaches and Springs, fertilizer appropriately (according to UF/IFAS guidelines and application rates) and skip the roundup and other harmful chemicals.
Dr. Klotzbach from Colorado State University has issued his annual first tropical storm/hurricane forecast for the ‘21 season ahead. As expected, the forecast is for an “above average season” - click here for his for the full read. NOAA will issue their seasonal forecast in a few weeks. Of course, it’s “just” a forecast but one should always be prepared for the potential wrath of Mother Nature. Dr. Klotzbach points to (among other things) a “heatwave” evident over the Eastern & Central Atlantic (2nd image below) stating:
“Much of eastern subtropical Atlantic is currently in moderate/strong marine heatwave. Warmer than normal April subtropical Atlantic typically correlates w/ more active Atlantic #hurricane season.”
And speaking of averages... the official 30 year avg. for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Basin will change slightly due to the start of a new decade. The averages are just a bit higher largely owing to better detection technology & somewhat different manners of classification. The NOAA story is * here *. It is worth noting that the avg. seasonal number will *not* change for the East or Central Pacific Basins.
The 30-year averages for temps. will amend slightly as we change decades (every 10 years as tabulated by NOAA, the N.W.S.). The images below show tri-decadal changes going back to the beginning of the 20th century. No surprise is the warming trend - compared to the avg. for the 1900′s - for the Lower 48 since 1981. Possibly related - the increase in overall precipitation (warmer air can “hold” more water vapor) going back to about 1971:
We now have detailed weather observations from Mars courtesy Perseverance (launched in July, 2020, landing in Feb., 2021). A few of those reports:
Date Air Temperature (Max/Min) Pressure (Pa) Sunrise Sunset
Apr. 18, 2021 -9°F -118°F 751.4 05:58:31 18:35:58
Apr. 17, 2021 -6°F-116°F 750.8 05:59:07 18:36:05
Apr. 16, 2021 -4°F-116°F 749.4 05:59:44 18:36:12
Apr. 15, 2021 -9°F-116°F 747.9 06:00:20 18:36:19
Apr. 14, 2021 -12°F-117°F 747.8 06:00:57 18:36:26
Apr. 13, 2021 -7°F-118°F 748.1 06:01:34 18:36:33
Apr. 12, 2021 -7°F-116°F 746.6 06:02:11 18:36:40
Cool clouds midday Tue., April 20th! The official name: Undulatus Asperatus. These types of clouds are generally formed by warm, humid air forced up over cooler air closer to the ground.
Mary Ann Brown, Jax S’side:
Tony Sotelo, near UNF campus:
Meanwhile... the ongoing La Nina continues to appear to be slowly weakening. The forecast is for a mostly neutral (near avg.) sea surface temps. near the equatorial Pacific by later in the summer into the fall. The image below shows Pacific sea surface temps. followed by the prediction by multiple models (the consensus shows gradually moderating sea surface temps.) .... then an explainer: