October 24, 2020

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 9/29/2020

Hurricane evacuation plans could be muddled by coronavirus

For Floridians, the remainder of the year presents two dangers: an over-active hurricane season and the risk of contracting the coronavirus. Researchers from the University of South Florida are studying how hurricane evacuations may be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic this year. Early research shows that a significant number of people who previously would have gone to an evacuation shelter wouldn’t go this year because of the fear of getting the virus. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Will Canadian snowbirds still flock to Florida

As crossing into the U.S. from Canada via car remains banned except for essential purposes, Canadian snowbirds are deciding how to handle their yearly seasonal trips down to Florida. Some are delaying their journeys, hoping that the border will reopen sooner rather than later, some are flying down and renting cars upon arrival and some aren’t coming at all. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

August tax collections exceed revised projections by $177M in Florida

When state economists lowered fiscal year 2021 revenue estimates in August to reflect COVID-19’s effect, it essentially was an acknowledgement that pre-pandemic economic metrics no longer applied, at least not temporarily. The General Revenue Fund Financial Outlook Statement adopted Aug. 14 by the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) forecast Florida’s collections would fall $3.4 billion short of projections this fiscal year and $2 billion shy of estimates next fiscal year. [Source: Center Square]

Florida braces for a storm of homeowners insurance rate hikes

The peculiar dynamics of reinsurance and climate have inched the state of Florida toward the precipice of an insurance disaster. Simply put, homeowners’ premiums are set to become very, very expensive. Floridians are subject to forces that extend far beyond their local insurance companies and date to the 2008 financial crisis. It was then, as interest rates were plummeting along with the stock market, that large hedge funds and pension funds began to look for places to earn higher yields and diversify their risk. [Source: Bloomberg Businessweek]

Gas prices keep dropping (not that Florida drivers will complain)

Florida’s gas prices continue to drop, with the average price across the state for a gallon of regular unleaded sliding three cents over the past week to $2.10 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. That average is the state’s lowest since Aug. 31 and 36 cents lower than at this time last year. “Gas prices are following their seasonal trend of declining during the fall,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. [Source: WPLG]


› State mulls 700 mph hyperloop project from Tampa to South Florida
Based on the Elon Musk concept, Florida is looking at a company developing a 700 mph hyperloop that could run from Tampa to South Florida, according to a report in the Fort Myers News-Press. The form of high-speed transportation that involves a pod that moves from place to place by use of pressure systems would be developed by California-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

› Feld Entertainment plans Monster Jam, Disney on Ice arena shows in coming weeks
Almost everything about Feld Entertainment is big. The company’s monolithic, 580,000-square-foot headquarters in Palmetto rises dramatically over the horizon on a stretch of U.S. Highway 301. Giant gold letters proclaim “F-E-L-D.” In the lobby, there’s a tire big enough to take a nap in. The Monster Jam monster trucks parked inside are not far from the glittering, 250-pound elephant blankets that once adorned Feld’s largest performers in the now-retired Ringling Bros. circus.

› Carnival sends new Port Canaveral-bound ship Mardi Gras out for sea trials
Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship Mardi Gras is headed for 10 days of sea trials ahead of its 2021 debut in Port Canaveral. The new class of ship, the largest ever for the line, was originally to debut in North America this year, but because of COVID-19, the line has pushed its first planned sailing to Feb. 6, 2021.

› Jacksonville Zoo's African Forest wins award
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has received a national award for its African Forest exhibit. The zoo was presented with the Exhibit Award for Innovation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums this month at the 2020 AZA Virtual Annual Conference.

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Rare, two-headed snake found in Palm Harbor home
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A family in Palm Harbor recently found a rare creature in their home – a two-headed snake. FWC researchers said the phenomenon is named bicephaly – an uncommon occurrence that happens during snake embryo development. When two monozygotic twins fail to separate, it leaves the heads conjoined onto a single body.

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