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Dateline Florida

Published March 22, 2007



The upcoming hurricane season is shaping up to be much busier than last year. Forecasters with Tropical Storm Risk in London estimated 17 tropical storms will form, with nine reaching hurricane force and four of those becoming major hurricanes with winds topping 111 mph. As many as five storms, including two hurricanes, may make landfall in the United States, according to the forecast. The June-to-November season is forecast to be far more active than last year, when only one tropical storm came ashore in the United States. Warm water in the Atlantic basin will provide heat and moisture to power the storms, while changes in trade wind patterns, thanks to dissipating El Nino and strengthening La Nina conditions, will cause cyclones to form at the center of the storms, said Mark Saunders, lead scientist for Tropical Storm Risk. "The El Nino conditions present since September 2006 dissipated rapidly during February," Saunders said. "The sudden El Nino dissipation is the main reason for the TSR forecast for hurricane activity in 2007 rising."

Trump's giant flag has friend in Tallahassee

Donald Trump is fighting a Palm Beach decision to fine him for flying a giant American flag at his Mar-A-Lago resort. He also has state Rep. Nick Thompson. After seeing the controversy on Nancy Grace, the Fort Myers Republican filed the Florida Flies the Flag Act, which would prohibit local government from stopping someone from displaying Old Glory, no matter what size. On Wednesday, the bill passed the Military & Veterans' Affairs Committee. But there is no Senate companion and local governments have raised numerous objections. "Imagine an 80-foot flag at the corner of Tennessee and Monroe. Think about that obstruction," said Scott Dudley, a lobbyist for the Florida League of Cities. Thompson says he hopes to help typical Floridians who do not have Trump's means.

Secondhand smoke draws firetrucks

Smoke prompted firefighters to surround a Tampa bank building about noon Wednesday. With no sign of flames, they looked down. A cigarette had landed in a sidewalk grate, igniting dry leaves. Fumes drifted into the Mercantile Bank Building garage, suggesting a new adage: Where there's smoke, there's a smoker.

[Last modified March 22, 2007, 01:23:45]

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