This year's El Niño is shaping up to be a whopper — potentially surpassing the one in 1997, which was the strongest on record, the National Weather Service says.

That could be good news for drought-stricken California, but not-so-good for places such as the Philippines and Indonesia, which typically experience below-normal rainfall or drought conditions during El Niños.

Sammy Mack

  This week on the Florida Roundup, we discuss the week's news with the area's top journalists.


LISTEN: Sea-Level Rise In South Florida Town Hall

Nov 15, 2013

WLRN-Miami Herald News hosted a coastal-communities town hall on Nov. 7 as part of our more-than-weeklong multimedia series on the effects of sea-level rise, called Elevation Zero: Rising Seas in South Florida.

WLRN anchor Tom Hudson moderated the event, which included a panel of U.S. elected officials from East Coast districts gathered to discuss a response to the threat of rising seas. For more details on the premise, click here.


The folks in the Bahamas hamlet of Dunmore Town seem blissfully unaware of sea level rise. One resort hotel operator I called in Dunmore, which sits on Harbour Island, dismissed it altogether.

“I was just down at our beachside bar,” she said. “I didn’t notice the sea level rising.” (Yes, she was serious.)

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Standing at the water’s edge on Florida International University's Biscayne Bay campus, Nicholas Ogle shows a crowd of teenagers what looks like a giant, rotten green bean.

“We don’t want any mushiness anywhere, especially at the top,” he says, then chucks the specimen to the side.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is no stranger to stirring up controversy. As the 50th anniversary of his uncle's assassination approaches, his previously secret diaries have brought forth more private revelations about him and his famous family.

But he may be more comfortable poking at the fossil fuel industry (which he calls “criminal”) while also acting as a green technology entrepreneur.

A decade ago, sea-level rise from climate change was a political argument with very little external reality in the minds of most people.

But University of Miami professor Kenny Broad might have said then what he says right now.

"This isn't some future generation problem," Broad said. "It’s in our lap right now and we don’t have a lot of time to make some clear decisions."

Plenty of local realtors will describe South Florida’s housing market as recharged.  The latest reading from the popular Case-Shiller Index showed sales of single-family homes up 13.5 percent from a year ago in August.

There is continued demand for waterfront properties, fueled in large part by international cash buyers from countries like Canada and Brazil. In Miami-Dade County, for instance, the category of luxury properties selling at price points above $600,000 and below $1 million, saw growth in sales of almost 68 percent.

However, the question remains. If you add the threat of rising sea levels to the real estate investment equation in South Florida, are rooms with an ocean view actually a terrible place to put your money?

Meet The Miami Man Spearheading Climate-Change Research

Nov 7, 2013
-Brian Soden

Growing up in landlocked Iowa may be precisely the reason that the lure of the ocean was so strong for Brian Soden.

It pulled him from the cornfields to the waters around the University of Miami with designs on perhaps being the next Jacques Cousteau.

Except for one pesky problem. He didn't care all that much for biology. No fish fetish here.

What did emerge was a curiosity about how the oceans got to be the way they are, how the atmosphere factors into that and how water vapor, clouds and rainfall play a role in the planetary picture.

Climate Central

Global warming has raised global sea level about 8 inches since 1880 while rising seas dramatically increase the odds of damaging floods from storm surges. In fact, a Climate Central analysis found that the odds of worse floods occurring by 2030 are on track to double or more for widespread areas of the U.S.

Claudia H. Munoz

When it comes to climate change, one thing is certain: our oceans are rising. And South Florida is expected to be among the first regions on Earth to experience the impact. In fact, some initial preparations are already underway

One year ago Tuesday, Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, devastating shoreline communities from Florida to Maine.

Many of these areas have been rebuilt, including the Long Beach boardwalk, about 30 miles outside New York City. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new boardwalk Friday.

Ninety percent of the funding for the restoration came from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid $44 million to repair the devastation.

What South Florida's Spring Tide (Or King Tide) Looks Like

Oct 18, 2013
10th and Alton in Miami Beach
Arianna Prothero WLRN

The high tide that floods South Florida streets this time of year are known within the scientific community as a spring tide, although another popular term is king tide, which is not tied to any particular season.

A spring tide lasts several days and happens a few times a year when the moon, sun and Earth align.

Declaring that "human influence on the climate system is clear," a U.N.-assembled panel of scientists reported Friday that "it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."

Scientists and government representatives are meeting in Stockholm this week to produce the latest high-level review of climate change. It's thousands of pages of material, and if it's done right, it should harbor very few surprises.

That's because it's supposed to compile what scientists know — and what they don't — about climate change. And that's left some scientists to wonder whether these intensive reviews are still the best way to go.