Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, is barreling toward Florida

Matt 24:7 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

Important Takeaways:

  • Florida faces flash, urban flooding as Hurricane Agatha remnants threaten to become Tropical Storm Alex
  • The Hurricane Center warns that “considerable flash and urban flood is possible.”
  • A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible somewhere within the watch area within 48 hours.

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National Hurricane Center could release tropical storm watches and warnings later today for Florida

Matt 24:7 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

Important Takeaways:

  • The disturbance, which is the remnants of the Pacific Ocean’s Hurricane Agatha, has an 80% chance of reforming into a tropical depression or storm in the next two to five days
  • May become Tropical Storm Alex and become the first named system of the Atlantic season
  • On Monday, Hurricane Agatha made history as the strongest hurricane ever recorded to come ashore in May during the eastern Pacific hurricane season, ripping off roofs and washing out roads before fading Tuesday in southern Mexico.

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Hot and Dry conditions have several states battling fires

Revelation 8:7 “The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Wildfires Tear Across Several States, Driven By High Winds
  • Firefighters across the country are battling multiple wildfires as tinder-dry conditions and high winds whip up flames from Arizona to Florida — including a prairie fire in rural southwestern Nebraska that has killed one person, injured at least 15 firefighters and destroyed at least six homes.
  • Nebraska remains critically dry, said Ashford, who urged residents to use caution when doing anything that could spark a fire.
  • “The last thing we need is to have another fire started that we have to then fight,” he said.
  • In Arizona, firefighters also took advantage of lighter winds to boost containment of a more than 33-square-mile (85 square-kilometer) blaze that has been burning outside of Flagstaff for more than a week.
  • In northern New Mexico, evacuations remained in place.
  • The blaze has has grown into the largest wildfire burning in the U.S., charring more than 88 square miles (228 square kilometers).

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DeSantis passes bill to repeal Disney’s private government called Reedy Creek Improvement District

Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

Important Takeaways:

  • DeSantis Battles Disney: FL Senate Passes Bill to Repeal Disney World’s Self-Governing Status
  • Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday asked the state legislature to repeal a law that has given Walt Disney World special privileges for decades, allowing it to operate as a private government over its properties in the state.
  • The Reedy Creek Improvement District is a private government controlled by Disney World and was set up by the state legislature in 1967 allowing it to provide government services such as zoning, fire protection, utilities, and infrastructure.
  • The creation of the district, and the control the state gave to Disney over 27,000 acres in Florida, was a crucial element in the company’s plans to build near Orlando in the 1960s.
  • Company officials said they needed autonomy to plan a futuristic city along with the theme park. The city never materialized, but it morphed instead into the EPCOT theme park.
  • According to The Journal, under the bill passed by the Senate 23-16 on Wednesday, any special district established before the ratification of the Florida Constitution in 1968, and not renewed since then, would be dissolved on June 1, 2023.

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Microsoft Executive Shot in cold blood in front of his 2-year-old Daughter

Matthew 24:12 “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Mystery surrounds cold-blooded execution of Microsoft exec who was shot dead in front of his two-year-old daughter when he got out of car to move tire from middle of road in affluent Florida neighborhood
  • Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan, 33, was shot dead February 16 as his two-year-old daughter watched from a car seat
  • He was moving a tire obstructing the road in a Florida neighborhood when he was gunned down
  • Police believe the killing may have been targeted, and said the assailant shot Bridegan from close range, about four feet away
  • ‘It was specific, [Bridegan] used this route all the time. Whoever [killed him] knew the route,’ said Jacksonville Beach Police Detective Sergeant David Young
  • A $30,000 reward is being offered for information – currently, there are no leads
  • ‘I still have hope… but it’s frustrating that it’s been two months and whoever did this is still out there,’ Bridegan’s wife, Kirsten, said

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160 Wildfires in Florida’s Panhandle

Important Takeaways:

  • Florida wildfires force evacuation of 1,100 homes as firefighters battle blazes
  • There were at least 160 wildfires burning more than 18,500 acres across the state, the Florida Forest Service (FSS) said Monday evening. The Bertha Swamp Road fire, the largest of the blazes, was estimated at more than 14,000 acres at the time.
  • The agency updated that the Bertha Swamp Road fire, which Gov. Ron DeSantis called “a big boy,” has now burned 28,109 acres alone.
  • “It’s moving very quickly,” DeSantis said of the fire during a news conference in Panama City
  • “We are looking at high, sustained winds of 10 to 15 miles per hour, gusting up to 20 to 25 miles per hour,” Joe Zwierzchowski, a spokesman for the Florida Forest Service, said Sunday. “So that’s going to make it a very dynamic situation.”

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Due to cold Iguanas are immobilized and falling out of the trees

Luke 21:25,26 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Important Takeaways:

  • Iguanas fall from trees in Florida as cold snap hits
  • The cold-snapped iguanas, immobilized while sleeping in trees, fall to the ground in a zombielike fashion. Once temperatures rise again in the morning, they spring back to life, but not before giving Floridians a fright.
  • Records for the date were also tied at Fort Pierce, with 32 and 30 at Vero Beach.
  • Temperatures fell to the freezing mark as far south as the Big Cypress National Preserve in southern Florida, west of the city of Miami, where the thermometer read 42 degrees at the Miami International Airport.
  • In Florida, the cold could spell trouble to the agriculture sector. Prior to the weekend, AccuWeather forecasters warned the cold was a serious concern for citrus and berry crops in Florida and advised that frost and freeze mitigation measures be taken ahead of time to minimize or prevent damage and loss.

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A cold chill for Florida residents

Luke 21:25,26 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Important Takeaways:

  • Arctic chill to bring 30’s for first time in 11 years to Miami
  • In some areas, the duration of temperatures of 32 degrees or below could be as much as 4 hours
  • A 1966 record in Lakeland could be broken Sunday morning when temperatures reach a low of 27 degrees. Orlando, Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale could also see record cold.
  • Temperatures in Orlando will struggle to reach 50 degrees

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Rare twister hits Fort Myers

Matthew 16:2-3 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

Important Takeaways:

  • Tornadoes Cause Massive Damage in Florida
  • Developing Story: Fort Myers appears to have received the brunt of the damage. The storms tore through an RV park as well as a yacht and country club. There are reports of injuries.
  • The same storm system dumped snow as far south as Jackson, Mississippi.

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Wake up and smell the coffee … made in the United States

By Marcelo Teixeira

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Farmer David Armstrong recently finished planting what is likely the most challenging crop his family has ever cultivated since his ancestors started farming in 1865 – 20,000 coffee trees.

Except Armstrong is not in the tropics of Central America – he is in Ventura, California, just 60 miles (97 km) away from downtown Los Angeles.

“I guess now I can say I am a coffee farmer!” he said, after planting the last seedlings of high-quality varieties of arabica coffee long cultivated in sweltering equatorial climates.

Coffee is largely produced in the Coffee Belt, located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, where countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Vietnam have provided the best climate for coffee trees, which need constant heat to survive.

Climate change is altering temperatures around the globe. That is harming crops in numerous locales, but opening up possibilities in other regions. That includes California and Florida, where farmers and researchers are looking at growing coffee.

Armstrong recently joined a group of farmers taking part in the largest-ever coffee growing endeavor in the United States. The nation is the world’s largest consumer of the beverage but produces just 0.01% of the global coffee crop – and that was all in Hawaii, one of only two U.S. states with a tropical climate, along with southern Florida.

Traditional producers of coffee such as Colombia, Brazil and Vietnam have suffered from the impact of extreme heat and changing rain patterns. Botanists and researchers are looking to plant hardier crop varieties for some of those nations’ coffee growing regions.

Top producer Brazil is going through the worst drought in over 90 years. That was compounded by a series of unexpected frosts, which damaged about 10% of the trees, hurting coffee production this year and next.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

“We are getting to 100,000 trees,” said Jay Ruskey, founder and chief executive of Frinj Coffee, a company that offers farmers interested in coffee growing a partnership package including seedlings, post-harvest processing and marketing.

Ruskey says he started trial planting of coffee in California many years ago but told few about it. He said he only “came out of the closet as a coffee farmer” in 2014, when Coffee Review, a publication that evaluates the best coffees every crop year, reviewed his coffee, giving his batch of caturra arabica coffee a score of 91 points out of 100.

Frinj is still a small coffee company targeting high-end specialty buyers. Frinj sells bags of 5 ounces (140 grams) for $80 each on its website. As a comparison, 8-ounce packages of Starbucks Reserve, the top-quality coffee sold by the U.S. chain, sell for $35 each. Frinj produced 2,000 pounds (907 kg) of dry coffee this year from eight farms.

“We are still young, still growing in terms of farms, post-harvest capabilities,” said Ruskey. “We are trying to keep the price high, and we are selling everything we produce.” The venture is already profitable,” he said.

The company has been growing slowly since, with Armstrong’s 7,000-acre (2,833-hectare) Smith Hobson Ranch one of the latest, and largest, to partner with Ruskey.

“I have no experience in coffee,” said Armstrong, who typically grows citrus fruits and avocados, among other crops.

To boost his chances of success, he installed a new irrigation system to increase water use efficiency and has planted the trees away from parts of the ranch that have been hit by frosts in the past.

Coffee uses 20% less water than most fruit and nut trees, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Water has become scarce in California after recent droughts and forest fires. Many farmers are switching crops to deal with limits on water use.

Giacomo Celi, sustainability director at Mercon Coffee Group, one of the world’s largest traders of green coffee, said the risks of cultivating coffee in new areas are high.

“It seems more logical to invest in new coffee varieties that could be grown in the same current geographies,” he said.

FLORIDA HOPES

As the climate warms in the southern United States, researchers at the University of Florida (UF) are working with a pilot plantation to see if trees will survive in that state.

Scientists have just moved seedlings of arabica coffee trees grown in a greenhouse to the open, where they will be exposed to the elements, creating the risk that plants could be killed by the cold when the winter comes.

“It is going to be the first time they will be tested,” said Diane Rowland, a lead researcher on the project.

Rowland said researchers are planting coffee trees close to citrus, an intercropping technique used in other parts of the world as larger trees help hold winds and provide shade to coffee trees.

The project, however, is about more than just coffee cultivation. Alina Zare, an artificial intelligence researcher at UF’s College of Engineering, said scientists are also trying to improve how to study plants’ root systems. That, in turn, could help in the selection of optimal coffee varieties for the region in the future.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. weather agency, annual mean temperatures were at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) above average for more than half the time in the long-term measuring stations across the United States’ southeastern region in 2020.

Florida experienced record heat last year, with average temperatures of 28.3 C (83 F) in July, and 16.4 C (61.6 F) in January. That is hotter than Brazil’s Varginha area in Minas Gerais state, the largest coffee-producing region in the world, which averages 22.1 C (71.8 F) in its hottest month and 16.6 C (61.9 F) in the coldest.

“With climate change, we know many areas in the world will have difficulties growing coffee because it is going to be too hot, so Florida could be an option,” Rowland said.

(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira in New York; Editing by David Gaffen and Matthew Lewis)