July 21, 2010

Ocean Observing Supports Recreational Opportunities at Local Florida Park

Fred Howard Park, located on the Gulf of Mexico in the City of Tarpon Springs, Pinellas County, Florida, is a popular destination for kite surfers, wind surfers, kayakers, and beachcombers. Visitors come from an hour or more away on a regular basis to use this unique area for its recreational opportunities. Knowing the weather and wind conditions in the area is a big deciding factor that helps them to plan their activities in the park. In addition, its physical location, jetting into the Western Gulf of Mexico, provides valuable advance water level and coastal inundation information to local emergency management personnel during extreme weather events.The Fred Howard Park meteorological/tidal station is a part of the University of South Florida’s (USF) Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS). Initial site funding was via a cooperative effort between USF/COMPS, a State of Florida Emergency Management Preparedness and Assistance Trust Fund (EMPATF) competitive grant, the Pinellas County Park System, and the City of Tarpon Springs Office of Emergency Management. Physically located on the southwest corner of the second causeway bridge, it became an operational COMPS weather station in June 2004.In September 2008, the causeway bridges needed replacement, and the station was ...