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Talking The Tropics with Mike

    Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   The 2017 Atlantic Basin hurricane season will go down as the most costly ever - $202.6 billion... the most active since 2005... & the most U.S. landfalls since 2005. In all: 17 named storms (that began with distant tropical storm “Arlene” over the far E. Atlantic in April).... 10 hurricanes... 6 “major” (Cat. 3+). In Jacksonville... the season will be remembered for hurricane Irma - a September storm that moved up - north - very near & just west of the spine of Florida resulting in the greatest flood ever recorded along the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville. The combination of flooding, high winds and tornadoes resulted in millions of dollars in damage that will take months if not years to rebuild.  For a detailed (nerdy! :) ) recap of Irma including the forecast, damage & records, click - here. There were two other severe hurricanes that made landfall resulting in devastating damage - Harvey hit SE Texas in late Aug. & Maria decimated Puerto Rico in mid Sept. The eye-opening map from Erik Pindrock below shows just how extensive the hurricane & especially tropical storm force winds were for the ’17 season with virtually all of Fl., the Gulf Coast & the east coast as far north as N. Carolina experiencing sustained tropical storm force winds at one time or another. The accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) is another telling product showing the season to be just about “average” with the notable exception of Sept. which included powerful hurricanes Irma & Maria.  Graph below courtesy Phil Klotzbach, CSU: Another interesting map & graph provided by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) shows the number of tornadoes in the Lower 48 spawned by tropical cyclones.  It’s the most active since 2008. The 119 twisters (26 in Florida) ranks 4th since 1995 only behind 2008, 2005 & 2004. Month by month breakdown: JUNE: The first month of the hurricane season included tropical storm Bret & Cindy.   Though BRET was a weak system in mid June, it was noteworthy because it was an unseasonably early African wave at a very low latitude for June that finally dissipated upon moving into the SE Caribbean.  There was no significant damage though there was some flooding reported in the Southern Lesser Antilles & even the extreme northeast coast of Venezuela. CINDY was more “traditional” for an early season storm developing over the Central Gulf of Mexico & making landfall as a relatively weak tropical storm over extreme SW Louisiana.  Damage was generally minimal though the landfalling storm & its remnants did spawn 18 tornadoes from the Fl. Panhandle & coastal Alabama/Mississippi north through parts of the Tennessee & Ohio Valley’s & even as far northeast as New Jersey! JULY: A quiet month.   T.D. #4 developed over the Central Atlantic early in the month but was overwhelmed by strong shear within a few days.  However, this depression was again a sign of things to come as it was born from the unseasonably active African wave train. Tropical storm DON was a mid month system that again developed from an African wave.  This cyclone moved over the far Southern Lesser Antilles producing flooding & mudslides but then dissipated over the extreme Eastern Caribbean where wind shear remained strong. AUGUST: As one would expect, a more active month with 1 tropical storm, 2 hurricanes & a major hurricane... EMILY early in the month was a small & weak tropical storm that developed just west of Tampa over the extreme Eastern Gulf born from a wave of low pressure along a stalled front.  The small but relatively tight circulation moved steadily east/northeast across Florida before dissipating over the W. Atlantic.  No significant damage for Florida with no reports of sustained tropical storm force winds over land. FRANKLIN - the first Atlantic Basin hurricane of the season - formed a few days after Emily over the Western Caribbean.  Early interaction with land (Yucatan Peninsula) + strong shear limited development initially.  But once over the very warm Bay of Campeche (far SW Gulf of Mexico), the cyclone quickly strengthened & became a hurricane before making landfall on the coast of Mexico well south of Texas. GERT formed a few days after Franklin east of the Bahamas over the SW Atlantic.  The storm moved north & became a hurricane then hooked (recurved) northeast far to the east of the U.S. & well west & north of Bermuda before becoming extratropical over the N. Atlantic.  No land areas were impacted. HARVEY formed from an African tropical wave on Aug. 17th just east of the Lesser Antilles.  Strong shear + dry air limited overall development all the way across the Caribbean as the storm moved steadily W/NW with eventual degeneration into a tropical wave over the Central Caribbean within a few days.  But once over the Bay of Campeche, Harvey restrengthened on the 23rd becoming a tropical storm once again while turning sharply northward.  Within 60 hours, the tropical cyclone rapidly became a hurricane burgeoning into a Cat. 4 hurricane upon landfall on the mid Texas Coast on the evening of the 25th.  This was the first “major” U.S. hurricane landfall since Wilma in Fl. in Oct., 2005.  While damage was severe on the coast of Texas, Harvey will be remembered - & go down in history - as a tremendous rainstorm.  Though not yet official, as much as 60” of rain poured down on metro Houston & nearby areas resulting in record flooding.  The slow moving storm turned south & southeast while near Houston re-emerging over the Gulf of Mexico before turning northward again moving making one last landfall on the 30th on the southwest coast of Louisiana.  Tremendous rainfall & flooding extended as far east as Beaumont & Lake Charles. Photo below from the Associated Press: SEPTEMBER: What is climatologically the peak of the hurricane season lived up to its “billing” in ’17 with 5 named storms including 2 major long track hurricanes. IRMA was a classic peak season long track Cape Verde major hurricane forming quickly from a tropical wave almost immediately upon leaving the coast of Africa on Aug. 30th. 0 The storm went hurricane within a day - on the 31st then maintained hurricane strength all the way across the Atlantic through Sept. 10th!  Find a very detailed recap of Iram - here. The first land interaction was a devastating Cat. 5 blow on the Northern Lesser Antilles & U.S. Virgin Islands on Sept. 5th.  Irma then moved just north of Puerto Rico sparing the island the worst of the storm but “setting the table” for what would follow - hurricane Maria.  Irma then continued west moving just north of Hispaniola before turning a little southwest & making a Cat. 5 landfall on the north coast of Cuba late on the evening of the 8th.  This land interaction likely spared the Fl. Keys an even worse hit.  As it was, Irma hit the Central Keys as a Cat. 4 on the evening of the 9th.  Key West remained on the west of the circulation sparing the city the highest winds as well as the worst of the storm surge.  The Central Keys were not so lucky, however, with sustained winds well above 100 mph & a storm surge that appears to have been limited to around 5 feet possibly due to the rapid reversal of winds from the S/SE to the west as the eye steadily moved north. The peak impacts from Irma for Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga. were Sun. - Mon., Sept. 10-11.  Many trees were toppled & the 10-15” of rain caused lots of flooding - largely because of saturated ground from an above avg. wet season.  Several tornadoes were confirmed - one of the strongest of which was an EF-2 near Crescent Beach in St. Johns Co.  A condominium complex was severely damaged by the tornado.  Ironically the same complex was hit by a tornado in 2004 spawned by tropical storm Frances. Perhaps most noteworthy for the local area was epic flooding along the St. Johns River with downtown Jacksonville hit the hardest.  It appears the “Irma flood” was the greatest in recorded modern history going back to the mid 19th Century.  The culprit essentially came down to the track of the hurricane which was west of Jacksonville.  The counter-clockwise circulation resulted in a strong southerly wind straight up the St. Johns River into downtown Jacksonville.  The combination of heavy rain (fresh water), storm surge & strong winds piled up water right at the bend of the St. Johns River resulting in record flooding for San Marco & Riverside with a 6-8 foot storm surge! Action News Jax - CBS47 & Fox30 - went wall to wall with hurricane Irma coverage from Fri., Sept. 8th through Mon. night, Sept. 11th.  WOKV News 104.5 was in continuous live coverage mode from Fri., the 8th through the entire following week!  I commend the work of my peers on both news platforms. Early morning of Sept. 5th: 1 Sept. 10th landfall at Marco Island: Memorial Park, Downtown Jacksonville: Crescent Beach EF-2 tornado damage: NOAA: Map below courtesy Hal Needham/NOAA Tides & Currents: JOSE developed from another African tropical wave & was upgraded on Sept. 5th east of the Lesser Antilles.  The cyclone sideswiped the U.S. Virgin Islands (still reeling from Irma)... made a loop southwest of Bermuda.... & then moved north before recurving over the N. Atlantic.  Though quite a distance from the U.S. mainland, the combination of the hurricane to the southeast & a strong high pressure to the north created rough seas & surf + tropical storm force wind gusts along the New England coast.  The last advisory was not issued until Sept. 22nd - 17 days after its formation. KATIA developed over the Bay of Campeche/SW Gulf of Mexico Sept. 5th coming ashore as a hurricane on the Mexico coast (close to where Franklin made landfall in Aug.) Sept. 8-9th largely overshadowed by Irma which was raking parts of the Caribbean. LEE formed from yet another African tropical wave on Sept. 14th becoming a hurricane east of Bermuda but remaining over the open Atlantic before becoming extratropical on the 30th. MARIA also formed from an African wave - on the 16th - becoming a Cat. 5 upon approach to Puerto Rico after raking the Central & Northern Lesser Antilles.  Maria was a Cat. 4 while it ravaged Puerto Rico on Sept. 20th.  One of the most devastating hurricanes to ever hit Puerto Rico, the island nation will likely take years to recover.  Maria turned rather sharply to the north after hitting Puerto Rico taking the cyclone harmlessly over the W. Atlantic between the east coast of the U.S. & Bermuda before taking an abrupt turn to the east over the N. Atlantic as the last advisory was issued on Sept. 30th.  As of Nov. 30th, 34% of Puerto Rico was still without power with an island wide boil water advisory still in effect. OCTOBER: As is usually the case, Oct. was quieter overall but still relatively active for so late in the season with the development of 3 named storms including 2 hurricanes. NATE formed on the 4th over the W. Caribbean just east of Nicaragua.  Land interaction with Central America limited development before the tropical cyclone emerged over the warm water of the NW Caribbean on Oct. 6th.  Nate gradually intensified while navigating the Yucatan Channel before accelerating northward across the Gulf of Mexico reaching the Gulf Coast just east of New Orleans during the evening of Oct. 7th as a Cat. 1 hurricane.  Nate did spawn 16 tornadoes from Mississippi & Alabama to the Western Carolina’s. OPHELIA formed over the Central Atlantic on the 9th & was noteworthy for it’s strong intensity - Cat. 3 on the 14th - so far east & north so late in the season.  As the storm became post-tropical on the 15th, it lashed Ireland with hurricane force winds. PHILIPPE formed over the W. Caribbean on the 27th & struggled throughout its life cycle as a weak tropical storm while move some semblance of NE through parts of the Keys & S. Florida before dissipating north of the Bahamas & well southwest of Bermuda on the 29th.  The storm did produce 3 S. Florida tornadoes. NOVEMBER RINA - the lone Nov. storm developed over the Central Atlantic far to the east of Bermuda moving just about due north as a tropical storm before becoming absorbed by a large extratropical low over the N. Atlantic.  No land areas were impacted.
  • Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   After 400+(!) written updates to 'Talking the Tropics With Mike', the 2017 hurricane season is over!....... daily updates will begin anew June 1, 2018. Extensive hurricane Irma recap - click here. Dr. Phil Klotzbach has updated the graph below for U.S. landfalling hurricanes since 1851 including Harvey, Irma & Nate from 2017. Over the Atlantic Basin.... Low pressure is developing south of Bermuda over the Central Atlantic accompanied by heavy showers & t'storms.  Movement will be to the east over the open Atlantic. And a large ocean storm (low pressure) is over the Northeast Atlantic but will remain nontropical. Deep oceanic heat content continues to wane as we head toward the end of the hurricane season..... 0 Sea surface temp. anomalies: 1 East Atlantic IR satellite: Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS).  SE U.S. surface map: Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic: Surface analysis of the Gulf: Caribbean:
  • Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   Thu. - Nov. 30th - is the last day of the 2017 hurricane season!....... There is a cluster of t'storms well east of Fl. east & northeast of the Bahamas.  Some forecast models do show a surface low developing in this area then moving east or east/northeast over the open Atlantic. Images below from the Storm Prediction Center showing tornadoes (preliminary counts) spawned by U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones.  The great majority were associated with 'Harvey' - 57.  The 119 for the year ranks 4th since 1995 only behind 2008, 2005 & 2004. Map below tweeted by Erik Pindrock shows virtually all of Fl. has experienced at least tropical storm force winds this year... as well as the entire Gulf Coast... & as far north as N. Carolina on the east coast: 2017 ACE - Accumulated Cyclone Energy - according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach.  September was way above avg. (largely Irma & Maria) but otherwise pretty close to average.... Dr. Phil Klotzbach has updated the graph below for U.S. landfalling hurricanes since 1851 including Harvey, Irma & Nate from this year (2017). Interesting tweet & graph from Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU - 'no statistically significantly trend': 0 Deep oceanic heat content continues to wane as we head toward the end of the hurricane season..... 1 Sea surface temp. anomalies: East Atlantic IR satellite: Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS).  SE U.S. surface map: Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic: Surface analysis of the Gulf: Caribbean: Extensive hurricane Irma recap - click here. 0
  • Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   Thu. - Nov. 30th - last day of the 2017 hurricane season!....... There are no areas of concern over the Atlantic Basin. A stalled front is triggering scattered, disorganized showers & t'storms from the Central & Western Atlantic to the Caribbean but no surface development is indicated. Images below from the Storm Prediction Center showing tornadoes (preliminary counts) spawned by U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones.  The great majority were associated with 'Harvey' - 57.  The 119 for the year ranks 4th since 1995 only behind 2008, 2005 & 2004. Map below tweeted by Erik Pindrock shows virtually all of Fl. has experienced at least tropical storm force winds this year... as well as the entire Gulf Coast... & as far north as N. Carolina on the east coast: 2017 ACE - Accumulated Cyclone Energy - according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach.  September was way above avg. (largely Irma & Maria) but otherwise pretty close to average.... Interesting tweet & graph from Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU - 'no statistically significantly trend': Deep oceanic heat content continues to wane as we head toward the end of the hurricane season..... 0 Sea surface temp. anomalies: 1 East Atlantic IR satellite: Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS).  SE U.S. surface map: Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic: Surface analysis of the Gulf: Caribbean: Extensive hurricane Irma recap - click here.
  • Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   Just a few days left in the 2017 hurricane season!....... There are no areas of concern over the Atlantic Basin. An old front is triggering scattered, disorganized showers & t'storms from the Central & Western Atlantic to the Bahamas to the Caribbean but no significant surface low is expected to develop. Images below from the Storm Prediction Center showing tornadoes (preliminary counts) spawned by U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones.  The great majority were associated with 'Harvey' - 57.  The 119 for the year ranks 4th since 1995 only behind 2008, 2005 & 2004. Interesting map below tweeted by Erik Pindrock shows virtually all of Fl. has experienced at least tropical storm force winds this year... as well as the entire Gulf Coast... & as far north as N. Carolina on the east coast: Interesting tweet & graph from Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU - 'no statistically significantly trend': Deep oceanic heat content continues to wane as we head toward the end of the hurricane season..... Sea surface temp. anomalies: 0 East Atlantic IR satellite: 1 Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS).  SE U.S. surface map: Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic: Surface analysis of the Gulf: Caribbean: Extensive hurricane Irma recap - click here.
  • Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   Less than a week left in the 2017 hurricane season!....... There are no areas of concern over the Atlantic Basin. An old front is triggering scattered, disorganized showers & t'storms from the Central & Western Atlantic to the Caribbean but no low pressure development of consequence is expected. A large & strong ocean storm is over the Northeast Atlantic - nontropical but impressive on satellite.... Images below from the Storm Prediction Center showing tornadoes (preliminary counts) spawned by U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones.  The great majority were associated with 'Harvey' - 57.  The 119 for the year ranks 4th since 1995 only behind 2008, 2005 & 2004. Interesting map below tweeted by Erik Pindrock shows virtually all of Fl. has experienced at least tropical storm force winds this year... as well as the entire Gulf Coast... & as far north as N. Carolina on the east coast: Interesting tweet & graph from Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU - 'no statistically significantly trend': Deep oceanic heat content continues to wane as we go deeper into fall..... Sea surface temp. anomalies: 0 East Atlantic IR satellite: 1 Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS).  SE U.S. surface map: Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic: Surface analysis of the Gulf: Caribbean: Extensive hurricane Irma recap - click here.
  • Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   Less than week left in the 2017 hurricane season!....... There are no areas of concern over the Atlantic Basin. Disorganized shower & storms over the Caribbean are associated with a surface trough of low pressure.... showers & t'storms over the Western Atlantic are associated with an upper level trough + a cold front.  No tropical development is expected from either system. A large & strong ocean storm is over the Northeast Atlantic - nontropical but impressive on satellite.... Images below from the Storm Prediction Center showing tornadoes (preliminary counts) spawned by U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones.  The great majority were associated with 'Harvey' - 57.  The 119 for the year ranks 4th since 1995 only behind 2008, 2005 & 2004. Interesting map below tweeted by Erik Pindrock shows virtually all of Fl. has experienced at least tropical storm force winds this year... as well as the entire Gulf Coast... & as far north as N. Carolina on the east coast: Interesting tweet & graph from Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU - 'no statistically significantly trend': Deep oceanic heat content continues to wane as we go deeper into fall..... Sea surface temp. anomalies: 0 East Atlantic IR satellite: 1 Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS).  SE U.S. surface map: Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic: Surface analysis of the Gulf: Caribbean: Extensive hurricane Irma recap - click here.
  • Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   On week left in the 2017 hurricane season!....... There are no areas of concern over the Atlantic Basin. Disorganized shower & storms over the Caribbean are associated with a surface trough of low pressure.... showers & t'storms moving into Florida are associated with an upper level disturbance + a weak surface low.  No tropical development is expected from either system. The rest of the Atlantic Basin is quiet.... Images below from the Storm Prediction Center showing tornadoes (preliminary counts) spawned by U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones.  The great majority were associated with 'Harvey' - 57.  The 119 for the year ranks 4th since 1995 only behind 2008, 2005 & 2004. Interesting map below tweeted by Erik Pindrock shows virtually all of Fl. has experienced at least tropical storm force winds this year... as well as the entire Gulf Coast... & as far north as N. Carolina on the east coast: Interesting tweet & graph from Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU - 'no statistically significantly trend': Deep oceanic heat content continues to wane as we go deeper into fall..... Sea surface temp. anomalies: 0 East Atlantic IR satellite: 1 Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS).  SE U.S. surface map: Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic: Surface analysis of the Gulf: Caribbean: Extensive hurricane Irma recap - click here.
  • Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   Less than 10 days left in the 2017 hurricane season!....... There are no areas of concern over the Atlantic Basin. Another flare-up of convection over the Gulf of Mexico is associated with an upper level disturbance - no tropical development expected. The rest of the Atlantic Basin is quiet.... Images below from the Storm Prediction Center showing tornadoes (preliminary counts) spawned by U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones.  The great majority were associated with 'Harvey' - 57.  The 119 for the year ranks 4th since 1995 only behind 2008, 2005 & 2004. Interesting map below tweeted by Erik Pindrock shows virtually all of Fl. has experienced at least tropical storm force winds this year... as well as the entire Gulf Coast... & as far north as N. Carolina on the east coast: Interesting tweet & graph from Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU - 'no statistically significantly trend': Deep oceanic heat content continues to wane as we go deeper into fall..... Sea surface temp. anomalies: 0 East Atlantic IR satellite: 1 Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS).  SE U.S. surface map: Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic: Surface analysis of the Gulf: Caribbean: Extensive hurricane Irma recap - click here.
  • Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area .... hurricane Irma recap The 'Buresh Bottom Line': Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.   Less than 10 days left in the 2017 hurricane season!....... There are no areas of concern over the Atlantic Basin. Convection has flared over the Eastern Gulf of Mexico associated with a weak surface trough of low pressure + upper level disturbance.  While a weak surface low may eventually evolve, no tropical development is expected. Otherwise.... a succession of cold fronts are rolling east & south giving the Atlantic Basin a late fall look with widespread areas of strong shear along with cool/stable air diving deep to the south & east. Images below from the Storm Prediction Center showing tornadoes (preliminary counts) spawned by U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones.  The great majority were associated with 'Harvey' - 57.  The 119 for the year ranks 4th since 1995 only behind 2008, 2005 & 2004. Interesting map below tweeted by Erik Pindrock shows virtually all of Fl. has experienced at least tropical storm force winds this year... as well as the entire Gulf Coast... & as far north as N. Carolina on the east coast: Interesting tweet & graph from Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU - 'no statistically significantly trend': Deep oceanic heat content continues to wane as we go deeper into fall..... Sea surface temp. anomalies: 0 East Atlantic IR satellite: 1 Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS).  SE U.S. surface map: Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic: Surface analysis of the Gulf: Caribbean: Extensive hurricane Irma recap - click here.

The Latest News Headlines

  • An Alabama man charged with killing his wife, whose slaying last month unveiled her double life as an online exhibitionist, is accused of beating her to death with a bottle of absinthe, court records show. The partially-clothed body of Kathleen Dawn “Kat” West, 42, of Calera, was discovered lying in the road in front of her home just after 5 a.m. on Jan. 18, Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said in a Thursday news conference. She lived there with her husband, William Jeffrey West, and their 12-year-old daughter.  Jeff West, 44, was arrested Thursday and charged with murder. According to Shelby County Jail records, he was being held Friday in lieu of $500,000 bond.  The couple’s daughter was not home when her mother was killed. Lemley said Thursday that Jeff West was the department’s chief suspect from the beginning of the investigation, though Kat West’s “online professional activities” warranted investigators’ attention.  He declined to specify what evidence pointed them toward her husband.  “Let me say this. We are still restricted, very restricted, on what information that can be given out,” Lemley said. “The case is still under investigation, even though we have made an arrest. But, the case has to go to trial as well.” The West murder case has shone a national spotlight on small-town Calera, due mainly to the more salacious details of Kat West’s life. Though she described herself on social media as a full-time stay-at-home wife and mother, she operated a subscription-only adult website where she went by the name “Kitty Kat West.” The public page boasted a suggestive photo and promised users that, for a monthly $15.99 subscription fee, they could get more risqué material beyond the paywall.  Her Twitter account, also listed under her stage name, directs viewers to the paid adult website, as well. Kat West’s bio on the adult site, which was still live as of Friday, described the site, in part, as “hundreds of pics of ALL me, having some naughty fun.” In the days immediately following the slaying, Kat West’s mother, Nancy Martin, wrote on Facebook that it seemed “impossible for the extreme sadness and grief we feel (over) the loss of our beautiful daughter, Kat, to ever diminish.” She described her daughter as a “cherished wife to Jeff” and a loving mother to their own young daughter.  A fundraiser in Kat West’s name was established, but quickly ended as the case became more public.  On Jan. 24, Martin changed her profile picture to one of her daughter and son-in-law. It remained there as of Friday afternoon.  See Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley’s news conference, recorded by WBRC in Birmingham, below.  Lemley said that investigators interviewed many witnesses in the case, as well as collecting a lot of evidence that needed to be processed. Four detectives were assigned to the case, two of them full-time.  “Evidence takes time to process,” the police chief said. “And we have to wait on that evidence to come in so we can connect all the dots.” Detectives were awaiting analysis on a final piece of evidence from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. That final report was issued on Tuesday and, after a thorough review by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, a warrant was issued for Jeff West’s arrest, the chief said.  >> Read more trending news  “We know exactly what happened, for the most part, on this case.” Lemley said. “I mean, we can’t tell you verbatim what was being said one way or the other, but we know what happened that night. We do have evidence to support that.” The chief credited neighboring Shelby County law enforcement agencies, state agencies and the FBI with assisting in the investigation.  Lemley again declined to go into detail about the evidence, but Jeff West’s arrest warrant, obtained by AL.com, indicates that Kat West was killed with a bottle of Lucid Absinthe. An autopsy found that the victim died of blunt force trauma to the head.  The court documents state that, when a 19-year-old neighbor left for work Jan. 18, she found Kat West face-down on the ground in nothing but a sports bra, her body half in the roadway and half in the yard of the home across the street. A cellphone was found nearby, along with a green liquor bottle.  Lucid Absinthe is sold in green bottles.  TV news magazine Inside Edition on Jan. 25 aired surveillance footage from R&R Wine and Liquor, in Calera, that shows Kat West, just about eight hours before she was killed, walk into the liquor store with a man who appears to be her husband. In the video, the couple looks happy and playful. “They came in (and) it looked like they were on their date night,” store clerk Stacey Oglesby told Inside Edition. The couple bought two things that night: Lucid Absinthe and Jameson Irish Whiskey, Oglesby said.  Lemley said it was not completely clear what could have happened between the couple’s visit to the liquor store, when they appeared happy, and when Kat West was bludgeoned to death.  “It’s a domestic. Unfortunately, domestics turn bad pretty quickly,” Lemley said. “Anything can trigger it.”  Jeff West, a military veteran, works as an unsworn police officer at Birmingham Southern College, AL.com reported. Officials at the school said they are in the process of terminating his employment.  As of Thursday, Jeff West had not admitted involvement in the crime, Lemley said. 
  • Originally arrested on grand theft charges, a Neptune Beach police patrol officer is sentenced to six months in Duval County Jail after pleading guilty to petit theft. Authorities say 33-year-old Christopher Ortiz admitted to stealing $807 in cash from an undercover officer’s wallet on July 17, 2017. Investigators, acting on complaints about missing property from individuals Ortiz had arrested previously, set-up a sting operation involving an undercover officer posing as an impaired driver. Ortiz admitted that he had taken the cash after he had pulled over the undercover officer, then admitted to taking money from three others previously.  “While we are strongly disappointed in Mr. Ortiz’s actions, we are exceptionally pleased with the disposition of this case,” says Neptune Beach Police Chief Richard Pike. “Our commitment to the public’s trust is paramount and vital to our continued success while serving the public.” Ortiz must make full restitution to the three victims identified during the investigation.
  • With a spike in school-related threats following the mass shooting in Parkland, the Clay County Sheriff's Office is announcing the arrest of a second suspect accused of making threats online.  The sheriff's office says early Friday they were informed about threatening messages involving Oakleaf Junior High School, prompting an immediate investigation by their Juvenile Crimes Unit and their Cyber Crimes Unit.  Information they uncovered led them to an Oakleaf Junior High School student, who has since been arrested and is being charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor. We’re told she is 13-years-old. This arrest comes only a few hours after Clay County deputies announced the arrest of a 9th grade student at Oakleaf High School student accused of making threats against that school.  The 15-year-old girl in that case is also facing two felony charges and a misdemeanor, including false report/ use firearms in a violent manner and written threats to kill or do bodily harm, as well as Disruption or Interfering with School. Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels recently announced that his deputies would have ‘zero tolerance’ for these kinds of threats.
  • President Donald Trump has called for the arming of qualified teachers in the wake of a deadly shooting that left 17 people dead at a Florida high school, but in Texas dozens of school districts already allow staff members to carry firearms. >> Read more trending news Officials with the Texas Association of School Boards on Thursday told KSAT that they were aware of at least 172 school districts that let staff members carry firearms. Each district individually decides whether to allow staff to carry weapons, board spokeswoman Theresa Gage told the news station. Under state and federal laws, schools are usually considered gun-free zones, but Texas law allows for districts to authorize employees to carry firearms under a pair of programs, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported. >> Related: Teachers to Trump: #ArmMeWith funding, supplies and resources, not guns The Guardian Plan, which allows for certain teachers to be designated as “guardians” who are allowed to carry concealed handguns, was created in 2007 as schools were reeling in the wake of a shooting at Virginia Tech that left more than 30 people dead and nearly two dozen injured, Texas Monthly magazine reported in 2014. Four years after the creation of the Guardian Plan, the state legislature passed the Protection of Texas Children Act. The act allows school districts to arm and train one employee as a school marshal for every 400 students, according to Texas Monthly. Agua Dulce Independent School District Superintendent Wayne Kelly told the Caller-Times that his district chose to participate in the Guardian Plan starting in 2016. To participate in the program, teachers and staff members are required to undergo mental health evaluations and 80 hours of training by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, according to the newspaper. >> Related: Some Ohio school districts arm staff, but don't tell public 'I feel like it would be good because there's a way to stop (school shooters)' under the Guardian and the School Marshal plans, Fabian Crossland, whose son is a kindergartner, told KSAT. Still, the plans have their critics, including Texas State Teachers Association spokesman Clay Robison. “It’s a bad idea. It’s always been a bad idea, and it will stay a bad idea,” Robison told the Dallas Morning News. “Teachers are there to teach, and they will protect their kids as the teachers did their best to do in Florida. Steps need to be taken to reduce the number of guns floating around in the hands of wrong people. Guns in the hands of teachers are not the solution. It’s a cop-out.” >> Related: Florida Gov. Rick Scott calls for reform to state's gun laws, increase in school security Trump on Friday reiterated his call to allow certain teachers and school administrators to carry concealed weapons in school, arguing that such a move would prevent or drastically cut down on the carnage caused by school shootings. He wrote Thursday on Twitter, “If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school.” “Why do we protect our airports, our banks, our government buildings, but not our school?” Trump asked Friday during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. “Our schools are essentially gun-free zones and that makes them very dangerous places.” According to the Los Angeles Times, schools currently allow staff members to carry guns on campuses in about two dozen states.
  • An Orlando, Florida, doctor has been arrested for Medicaid fraud. The Florida Department of Health and the Office of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit said Friday that Dr. Ishrat Sohail is accused of giving vaccines to patients with private insurance. The vaccines were intended for Medicaid patients and uninsured children as part of the Vaccines for Children Program, or VFC, officials said. >> Read more trending news  Officials said Sohail is accused of giving patients partial doses of vaccines while billing insurance for the full amount, officials said. The partial doses also may not provide sufficient protection from potentially dangerous diseases that can be prevented with a full dose of vaccine. The health department is working with the Agency for Health Care Administration and health insurance companies to notify all potentially affected families. At this time, it is estimated that approximately 500 children may have been affected, officials said in a news release. Read: Florida eye doctor gets 17 years for Medicare fraud Sohail’s license to practice medicine in the state of Florida has been suspended by the state. In 2016, the department determined that Sohail administered two vials of VFC vaccines to non-Medicaid patients and billed private insurance companies, officials said. She was suspended from the VFC program for two months.  Read: Florida doctor facing long Medicare fraud sentence Officials said Sohail was placed on a corrective action plan, which limited the number of doses of vaccines available to her and in January, she was found to be in noncompliance. Any child who received a vaccine from Sohail between 2016 and 2018 should contact a new primary care provider and consider revaccination, officials said. There is also the possibility that Sohail did not follow best practices in maintaining the sterility of the vaccines she administered. Officials say that, if a child experienced a severe adverse reaction or infection at the injection site of any vaccine administered by Sohail or her staff, patients should contact the Epidemiology Department at the Department of Health in Orange at 407-858-1485.

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