(Bloomberg) — Hurricane Michael could push this season’s toxic red tide inland, exposing more people to the dangerous health effects of a record algae bloom that has bedeviled much of Florida’s coast.
The hurricane is expected to generate a storm surge as great as 14 feet along parts of the Florida Panhandle, where it made landfall early Wednesday afternoon. That part of the coast that has seen some of the worst concentrations this year of red tide, a variety of algae that kills fish and releases toxins that cause respiratory symptoms in humans similar to tear gas.
Hurricane Michael could carry that algae past the beaches and into neighborhoods, scientists warn.
“A storm surge or king tide could bring red tide up onto land,” Larry Brand, a professor in the Department of Marine Biology and Ecology at the University of Miami, said by email. “The toxin would get into the air and people would be breathing it.”