Discover the cause of the harmful algae bloom impacting the gulf

Beaches in Mississippi have closed because of an algae outbreak. Now it could be impacting people in Alabama too.

It's important to note that the bloom has not shut down beaches or fishing along the Alabama coast, but officials are warning against eating fish and seafood from surrounding areas.

Algal blooms will expand only to where they can survive. The blooms need warm waters with plenty of nutrients to really thrive.

The entire Gulf of Mexico is supplying warm enough waters, but the nutrients are still limited to sources of freshwater, like the Mississippi River. The addition of freshwater from the river system leading into the Mississippi has been enhanced from flooding in the upper plains and midwest.

These waters, in particular, are more likely to contain nutrients from substances like fertilizers or detergents.

Now, as long as these conditions continue, the algal bloom will be able to at least maintain itself.

There's potential for tropical development in the next few days that could bring a change to the gulf. It's hard to predict how this could impact the bloom if it does at all. For example, the rain from a tropical system would cool temperatures and slow down algae growth, but any more flooding could just encourage more growth.

We have to wait and see how the algae bloom fairs in the next week and how a tropical system would impact us in the Tennessee Valley.

For the latest forecast, you can check our forecast discussion here.

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