News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE – Florida is in for a whopper of a hurricane season, according to experts who rolled out predictions during a week in which state officials also begin to repeal renewable-energy goals as they carry out a law recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Echoing earlier predictions about the six-month season that will start June 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday pointed to warm ocean waters and forecast up to 25 named storms, with up to 13 reaching hurricane strength and four to seven packing Category 3 or stronger winds.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has high confidence in its projections for the hurricane season that starts next week, with experts pointing to warm ocean waters and forecasting up to 25 named storms.
Mark Wool, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee office, said Thursday that the “ingredients” are lining up for a potential slew of named storms.
“All of the ingredients are there. We still have those near-record warm waters out in the Atlantic tropical-development areas that were there last year, and we no longer have (the climate pattern known as) El Niño,” Wool said. “We actually like to have an El Niño during hurricane season, because it increases wind shear over the development areas.”
Meteorologists in other parts of the country also have agreed on the potential severity of the upcoming storm season.
The NOAA forecast released Thursday was similar to a Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science forecast of 23 named storms and 11 hurricanes. Experts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts & Sciences, meanwhile, forecast an eye-opening 33 named storms.
Officials also have growing concern that rapid intensification of storms is becoming more frequent, resulting in less time for preparations and evacuations.
The private meteorology company AccuWeather warned Wednesday about rapidly intensifying storms, which gain wind intensity of at least 35 mph in 24 hours or less.
“Over the last couple of years, there have been many examples where this has been exceeded. We’ve seen 40 mph, 50 mph, even 60 mph increases in a 24-hour period,” AccuWeather Lead Hurricane Forecaster Alex DaSilva said in a prepared statement
With the possibility that the 2024 hurricane season could surpass 2023’s fourth most-active season on record, utility companies are among those bracing for potential disasters.
Armando Pimentel, president and CEO of Florida Power & Light, told members of the state Public Service Commission on Tuesday that the utility has to prepare for storms that could quickly intensify because “we no longer feel comfortable that a Category 1 is going to stay Category 1.”
“That wasn’t the case 20 years ago,” Pimentel said. “And maybe it’s a bunch of flukes that have happened over the last couple of years. But we need to be well prepared.”


Renewable-energy goals put in place in 2022 are on the chopping block, as a proposal published Wednesday by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Energy seeks to roll them back.
The goals have called for utilities to gradually increase the amount of renewable energy that they produce or buy until reaching 100 percent renewable energy in 2050.
But the Office of Energy’s proposal would repeal a rule that includes the goals, saying it is “no longer necessary.”
The proposal is designed to carry out a controversial law signed last week by DeSantis. The measure (HB 1645) includes deleting part of a law that directed the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to establish “goals and strategies for increasing the use of renewable energy in this state.”
When it takes effect July 1, the measure also will remove references in state law to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, bar potential offshore wind-energy generation and call for encouraging a “cost-effective and affordable energy supply.”
Opponents of the new law have argued that Florida should not reduce the emphasis on addressing climate change.
The Cleo Institute, which works on climate-change issues, said on its website that “Florida’s legislative shift underscores a growing divide between state policies and public concern over climate change, emphasizing immediate energy costs over long-term environmental sustainability.”
But DeSantis in a post last week on the social-media platform X said state officials are “restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.”


The Northwest Florida State College Board of Trustees on Tuesday tapped Cristie Kedroski, a senior vice president at the school, to serve as interim president as a search begins to find a replacement for outgoing President Devin Stephenson.
The trustees selected Kedroski after a discussion that started with Chairwoman Lori Kelley recommending the board authorize negotiating a contract with Vice President of Academic Affairs Henry Mack to serve as interim president.
Mack previously was a senior chancellor at the state Department of Education overseeing the Division of Florida Colleges and was a finalist last year to become president of Florida Gulf Coast University.
Trustees set parameters on Kedroski’s potential contract that would include a base salary of up to $250,000 and benefits that are available to Kedroski in her current position.
Also, the contract could preclude her from applying to become permanent president.
While discussing candidates, trustee Jon Ward said the ideal interim president should “have a long-standing history” with the college. Mack was appointed vice president of academic affairs for Northwest Florida State College in December. He also was briefly named interim president of Broward College in October, but the school changed course and hired someone else after an inability to reach agreement with Mack on a contract.
“I think past performance and past action is a future indicator of what we might be facing. I think we have a safer choice. Personally, I would like to see Dr. Kedroski being appointed interim president, and hopefully Dr. Mack will be OK with staying as vice president of academic affairs,” Ward said.

STORY OF THE WEEK: With insurers, utilities and emergency-management officials bracing for the coming months, experts continue to predict a highly active hurricane season for Florida and other areas of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “While climate change as science doesn’t necessarily indicate we’re going to be getting more tropical cyclones on average, we are predicting that there will be more of the major hurricanes and more of a category 4s and 5s.” — Mark Wool, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee office.