Many islanders are breathing a sigh of relief after a recent computer model used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted only a very low probability of oil or tar balls from the Deepwater Horizon reaching Anna Maria Island.
NOAA’s computer model map identifies the probability of problems in various sections of the Gulf and Atlantic Coast. Not surprisingly, the eastern Louisiana coast, the entire Alabama coast and the western half of the Florida Panhandle coast are given the highest probability, from 81 to 100 per cent.
What is surprising, however, are the regions with the second-highest probability of being contaminated by oil and tar. Areas in this group have a 61 to 80 percent chance of this, and they include the south central Louisiana coast and a very small zone in the central coastal part of the Florida Panhandle. Then comes the big surprise for this 61 to 80 percent prediction area: another large zone that runs from the Florida Keys up around the entire southeast coast of the state.
Anna Maria Island sits right on the border between two probability zones. The “below 1 percent” zone runs south from here. The “1 to 20 percent” zone runs north, beyond Tampa, almost to the Panhandle. What welcomed news this is.
These predictions were based on the assumption that the oil will continue to gush through late July at a rate of 33,000 barrels a day. Since it is based on historic wind and ocean current patterns, it’s not possible to anticipate what variation may occur with a major hurricane in the Gulf. Continue reading “Anna Maria Island Unlikely to be Affected by Oil Spill” »
The oil from BP’s drilling disaster is still spewing almost 400 miles to the northwest of Anna Maria Island, but it still has not reached our beautiful white beaches. Our feeling of appreciation for these beaches has been heightened as we think the unthinkable: that our abundant wildlife and beautiful clear water and white sand beaches could be seriously harmed by the catastrophe that is doing so much harm to the environment north of us.
Signs that islanders cherish our special beaches are apparent as the holiday weekend approaches here. In particular, there is a new group in Anna Maria called NEMO (North End Merchants Organization), which is planning an extensive trash clean up on July 5, after the anticipated dumping of trash on the beaches by thoughtless visitors. Volunteers will meet at the Roser Community Church, at Ginny’s and Jane’s at the Old IGA, and at Crosspointe Fellowship Church at the south border of the city of Anna Maria. Each group will focus on a particular stretch of beach within Anna Maria.
In addition to this organized effort, there likely will be many individual volunteers who just naturally take it upon themselves to walk the beach with large garbage bags after the fourth, picking up the debris and litter. In past years, members of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch have been particularly generous in performing this task, not only after the holiday, but in the course of their activities through the entire sea turtle nesting season. Turtles and birds can be badly injured or die from ingesting plastic, or from becoming tangled in it.
Continue reading “Anna Maria Island Beach Update: Still No Oil Here” »
The pristine beauty of Anna Maria Island’s beautiful clean white-sand beaches is something that thousands of local people and visitors care very much about. Although the oil spill occurred almost 400 miles from our beaches, and although there is no oil near our shores, it is worth being prepared to act in case the oil comes our way.
On Thursday evening, June 17, islanders concerned about the oil in the Gulf gathered in large numbers at the Anna Maria Island Community Center at 407 Magnolia Avenue in Anna Maria. The streets around the center were lined with parked cars, and the crowd of hundreds filled the gymnasium, including the bleachers.
A large panel of speakers and representatives of various public and private organizations sat at a long table. A big projector screen showed the face of the speaker as well as slide presentations throughout the evening.
Continue reading “Oil Spill Meeting at Anna Maria Island Community Center” »
Although not technically in the tropics, Anna Maria Island is close enough to have some tropical features. Many tropical plants grow here, and plenty of tropical storms come here. Many a tropical drink is enjoyed here! Sailing in warmer months certainly is a tropical experience. The friend who invites us to sail always offers the opportunity to cool off with the on-board spray, or with a swim in a pool back at the deck. It’s hot. It feels tropical.
The other day we were cruising Tampa Bay in a very stiff breeze. Gusts registered at 30 knots. We managed to eat our delicious Cuban sandwiches prepared by the ‘Havana Cabana’, despite the heeling of the boat and the tension on the reefed mainsail. We had left the jib down. Memorable as the sandwich and strong wind were, what struck me the most was the color of the water. It was such brilliant turquoise. I could not remember having seen it this color in recent sails. It made me feel as if we were in a tropical place. I wondered whether this is, indeed, the color of tropical seas. I wondered whether this always was the color of Tampa Bay, but I had just forgotten.
This led me to do a fair amount of reading on-line about the color of water. I confess that even after doing all this reading, I do not understand all the very complicated scientific explanations that were involved. These included discussions of the fact that the color of water is based on vibrations of molecules, and that some of the color is caused by reflection, refraction, and some of it is caused by absorption.
The simple fact that surprised me most, and which I was capable of understanding, was that water actually has an intrinsic blue color. I used to think the blue was entirely from reflection of the sky.
Proof that the color is intrinsic to the water can be seen by looking at water in an indoor pool with white sides and bottom. It looks blue. At least I think this is the case, based on what I read.
Continue reading “Cruising Tropical Seas” »
There is something cruel about the fact that the very nicest time of year on Anna Maria Island happens to coincide with IRS tax preparation time. Just when it’s beginning to be the perfect temperature to be outside on the island, it’s also time to think about looking for all those receipts, adding up all those deductions, contributing to an IRA. I really would rather be riding my bike or walking on the beach at this time of year. Or even just sitting on the deck looking at the egrets and herons that wander through our yard. Anything to avoid the federal tax return.
On the other hand, the island has become surprisingly busy, with traffic backed up for blocks at times. The other day it took me an hour and forty-five minutes to drive up Longboat Key from Sarasota to Holmes Beach. It would have been impossible to plan to be anywhere on time today, because traffic was gridlock at every intersection. This makes it a little less annoying to have to stay home and do those tax preparations.
Online efile tax preparation is still a chore but even tax preparation assistance with an excellent CPA at Key Accounting right here on the island, we spend a lot of time assembling supporting information which organize the material to be entered into the tax preparation software. For the next few days, I’ll just have to sit at my desk and gather all my information, maybe with the windows open and certainly with my mind on other things. Then we’ll just know we can stay on the island to take our information to the accountant.
Continue reading “Income Tax Preparation Help” »