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  • Move over murder hornets!  Giant, lethal cane toads are back in South Florida. The good news is they are harmless to humans, the bad news is the large triangular glands behind the toads eyes contain a high load of a milky-white toxin that can kill dogs. The other thing we have to mention is the toads are not unique to 2020. The 4-6 inch yellowish brown toad is considered an invasive species and was brought to Florida as a form of pest control between the 1930s and 1950s. They appear every summer to bread when heavy rains stir them up from their burrows.  “We have dozens out on the street at night. They are not even scared of people anymore, it’s like there are gangs of them out this year,” Elizabeth Bonilla , who lives near a canal in Homestead, told the Miami Herald. If a dog bites or licks one it can suffer convulsions, loss of coordination and cardiac arrest. Get your dog to the vet ASAP if it shows symptoms such as excessive drooling, red gums, vomiting, disorientation, circling, stumbling and falling, and seizures. You are urged to kill a cane toad if you come across one.  The University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation says you can identify the toad using the following criteria: Body is tan to reddish-brown, dark brown, or gray; back is marked with dark spots. Skin is warty. Large, triangular parotoid glands are prominent on the shoulders; parotoid glands of native 'true' toads are oval. Unlike native Southern Toads, they DO NOT have ridges or 'crests' on top of the head. The experts offer a way to humanely euthanize the toads by  “rubbing or spraying 20% benzocaine toothache gel or sunburn spray (not 5% lidocaine) on the toad's lower belly.” They say the reptile will become unconscious within minutes -  then to be sure you should put the frog in a sealed plastic bag it in the freezer for 24-48 hours.  Ugh! Not the most inviting thing to place next to the ice cream.  
  • With the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season in full swing, Floridians can buy storm related supplies tax-free until the end of Thursday.  No taxes will be charged for items like flashlights, batteries, coolers, radios and generators.  Here’s a full list of items exempt from tax until 11:59 p.m. June 4: Selling for $10 or less:  Reusable ice (reusable ice packs)  Selling for $20 or less:  Any portable self-powered light source (powered by battery, solar, hand-crank or gas)  Candles  Flashlights  Lanterns  Selling for $25 or less:  Any gas or diesel fuel container, including LP gas and kerosene containers  Selling for $30 or less:  Batteries, including rechargeable batteries, only these sizes:  AAA-cell  AA-cell  C-cell  D-cell  6-volt  9-volt  Coolers and ice chests (food storage; nonelectrical)  Selling for $50 or less:   Bungee cords  Ground anchor systems  Radios (powered by battery, solar or hand-crank)  Two-way  Weather band  Ratchet straps  Tarpaulins (tarps)  Tie-down kits  Visqueen, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths and other flexible waterproof sheeting  Selling for $750 or less:  Portable generators used to provide light or communications or to preserve food in the event of a power outage  The sales tax exemption does not apply to the rental or repair or any of the above items. It also does not apply to sales in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment or airport.  If qualifying items listed above are sold in a set with non-qualifying items, the price of the set will be subject to sales tax.
  • 12:30 p.m. UPDATE: Tropical depression 3 has strengthened into Tropical Storm Cristobal in southwestern Gulf of Mexico Monday afternoon.  Over the last 24 hours, the National Hurricane Center tracked its organization over the Bay of Campeche as it slowly drifted to the West.  By Sunday, the storm is expected to have 65 mile per hour winds, but it is not expected to move very far, very fast.  The forecast for Central Florida calls for increased rain chances toward the end of the work week.
  • Given the choice to stay at home and risk a hurricane or be at risk of COVID-19 - many Floridians say they will consider staying home. Forty two percent of Floridians surveyed by AAA said that they are less likely to evacuate for a storm this year over fears of contracting the new coronavirus. In fact, 29% said they would not leave their homes if they were warned to evacuate, but that number decreased with the intensity of the storm.  Eighty percent said they would leave for a Category 2 hurricane or greater. A third of those questioned did tell pollsters they are more concerned about hurricanes this season than they were last year, but the survey showed more than half (52%) of residents do not have an emergency plan. You can prepare by downloading the News 96.5 WDBO hurricane guide by clicking here. 
  • Latest update: Bertha continues to weaken as it travels over North Carolina Wednesday evening. Western Virginia could receive up to 4 inches of rain as the system continues to travel northward. Earlier version: Early this morning, the National Hurricane Center determined that the tropical system approaching the South Carolina coast had strengthened to a Tropical Storm, reaching maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. It then acquired a name: Bertha. SEE: Today’s Weather Forecast for Central Florida Find out: Why is Florida a good place to launch rockets from? Bertha becomes our second storm of this 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which has not yet officially started. This is the 6th consecutive year where at least one storm has developed ahead of schedule. Tropical storm warnings were placed along the South Carolina coast from Edisto Beach to South Santee River. Nota en español: Temporada de Huracanes 2020: Pronosticadores altamente confiados en una temporada activa DO YOU KNOW? What do they mean? Disturbance, depressions, tropical, subtropical storms, hurricanes At 9:30 a.m. ET, Bertha’s center made landfall just east of Charleston, South Carolina. It will continue to move slowly to the northwest onto land. At the 11 a.m. advisory, Bertha has strengthened, it has maximum sustained winds at 50 mph. It is expected to weaken as it moves over land. Bertha, or its remnants, will pick up speed this evening as it travels over eastern South Carolina and enters North Carolina. Bertha’s main threat is rain. Total rain accumulation of 2 to 4 inches with isolated totals of 8 inches across eastern and central South Carolina into west-central to far southeastern North Carolina and southwest Virginia. Given very saturated antecedent conditions, this rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding, aggravate and prolong ongoing river flooding, and produce rapid out of bank rises on smaller rivers. Read more: Hurricane Season 2020: How are they named? Who names them? Why? When? Why they retire names? Why isn’t Dorian retired yet? Hurricane Preparedness Week: New weather products for the 2020 season DOWNLOAD OUR FREE WFTV WEATHER APP TO RECEIVE ALERTS Follow our Severe Weather team on Twitter for live updates: Chief meteorologist Tom Terry Brian Shields Irene Sans Kassandra Crimi George Waldenberger Rusty McCranie

Mental Health

  • How will you cope? Authorities and mental health professionals offer these tips.  There is the rush to prepare, the nervous anticipation, the unsettling period during the storm, the loss of property, scavenging gas, or just living without power for a few days.  A hurricane experience can be incredibly stressful. In the weeks after Hurricane Wilma in 2005, nearly 1,000 people called a state mental-health hot line looking for help with problems such as depression and anxiety.  BEFORE THE STORM  Prepare early to avoid the stress of panic buying.  Storms are unpredictable, and their twists and turns can be maddening. Just prepare as if the storm will hit, and hope it doesn’t. Stay up on media reports and follow the instructions of local authorities so you’re not blindsided by developments.  Don’t go into denial. Don’t have a wild party. Storms are serious business.  If you live alone, plan to ride out the storm with friends or relatives, or consider volunteering at a shelter.  Try to exercise to burn off the nerves.  Now is the time to have a plan for how you will survive and recover after the storm so you aren’t overwhelmed by the task ahead.  YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD  Take the time now to get to know your neighbors. Share ideas about how you as a neighborhood will work together after the storm. Find out who has special physical or medical needs, who might need help preparing their house, and who might need assistance following the storm.  If you have a homeowners’ group, consider developing a plan or even holding neighborhood meetings in advance of the season. Consider following “Crimewatch” models.  Find out who might be out of town so you that can keep an eye on their place.