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Local and State News Update

Here’s a local news update from WFIT, Florida Today, and the Florida News Exchange.

Yes, that was a tornado.  

The National Weather Service in Melbourne confirms, yes, that was a tornado that touched down Beachside on Wednesday. A damage survey confirms that an EF-1 tornado impacted the South Patrick Shores community just south of Patrick Space Force Base. The tornado touched down initially in the Lighthouse Landing subdivision off South Patrick Dr. The twister continued across the South Patrick Shores community before emerging into the Atlantic near Ocean Blvd. and SR A1A. The tornado was on the ground for approximately 1.0 mile, and had peak winds estimated between 90-100 mph. Brevard County Emergency Management conducted a damage assessment and found 10 homes suffered major damage, and numerous homes experienced at least partial losses of their carports and awnings.

Fox Lake in Brevard monitored for toxic algae.

Florida environmental officials have tested North Brevard's Fox Lake for toxic algae. Until samples are tested, it’s best to avoid the lake's green waters. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection sampled the lake for blue-green algae toxins Wednesday, after parts of the lake's surface turned pea-soup green over the past week.

Lake Washington faced similar algae problems earlier this year. That lake is the main source of drinking water for the city of Melbourne's water system. But health officials have said in the past that when levels of algae toxins are at trace levels there's no risk to water customers.

SpaceX prepares for early Sunday launch.

The next rocket launch from the Cape is scheduled for very early Sunday morning. A SpaceX Falcon 9 is slated to send more Starlink satellites to orbit. The 2.5 hour launch window opens at 3:06AM Sunday. The rocket will head toward the southeast, with the first stage targeting a landing on the SpaceX drone ship offshore. Weather is forecast to be 80% favorable.

Citizens Property Insurance requests rate hikes.

With the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance continuing to see massive growth, regulators have taken up a proposal that would lead to double-digit rate increases for customers across Florida. The proposed increases would vary based on factors such as types of policies, but Citizens is recommending 12 percent increases for all homes that are primary residences.

Increases could be dramatically higher for homes that are not primary residences. A new state law allows increases of up to 50 percent for those properties. Regulators typically take weeks to decide whether to approve such proposals.

Private insurers during the past two years have dropped hundreds of thousands of policies, sought large rate increases and, in some cases, gone insolvent because of financial troubles. Part of the fallout is that homeowners have poured into Citizens, which was created as an insurer of last resort. State leaders have long sought to shift policies out of Citizens into the private market, at least in part because of financial risks if the state gets hit by a major hurricane or multiple hurricanes. Tim Cerio is the president of Citizens.

“Policyholders in the private market face the risk of having to pay Citizens’ assessments, in addition to their already higher premiums. That is fundamentally unfair.”

Citizens has seen its number of policies more than double during the past two years to 1.3 million as of last week.

For updates on these stories visit FloridaToday.com

Rick Glasby is a Broadcast Journalist at WFIT.