National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The recreational red snapper season in Alabama’s state waters has closed six weeks earlier than originally expected.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources closed the state season Sunday. The agency had originally planned to keep the fishing season open until September 3.

Alabama Marine Resources Division Director Scott Bannon says the quota of nearly 985 thousand pounds of snapper allocated to Alabama under NOAA guidelines has already been caught.

Government forecasters are set to release their prediction later today for how many hurricanes and tropical storms they expect to form over Atlantic and Caribbean waters in the next six months.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts Friday, June 1 and ends on November 30.

The Gulf of Mexico is setting an unwanted record – this year’s “dead zone”, where there’s too little oxygen to support any marine life, is the largest ever measured.

Scientists say this year, the oxygen-depleted region is about the size of New Jersey, covering 8,776 square miles. Scientist Nancy Rabalais has been measuring the area since 1985. She and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their latest findings yesterday.

Byrne snapper

This year’s federal red snapper season on the Gulf Coast is scheduled to begin a week from today. And it’s scheduled to end just 72 hours later.

That short season has outraged anglers and business owners on Alabama’s coast – and it has U.S. lawmakers scrambling to do something about it.

U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District, including the Gulf Coast. He’s been working on the red snapper season for years, and he’s one of five lawmakers currently petitioning Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to intervene and extend the season on an emergency basis.

Sipsey Wilderness fire
USDA Forest Service

Even after rainy weather doused much of the state, fire crews are still working to contain a wildfire in northwest Alabama.

The “Big Tree Fire” in the Sipsey Wilderness portion of Bankhead National Forest has been burning since October 16. The USDA Forest Service estimates nearly 2,000 acres of land has been impacted.

Blake Morris works with the USDA Forest Service at Talladega National Forest. He says despite the fire’s large footprint, very few trees are being affected.

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, tourism hasn’t just recovered on the Gulf Coast – industry officials say it’s surging. They credit the response to that environmental disaster as part of the reason why.

BP spent more than $230 million promoting Gulf Coast tourism after the 2010 spill, and the company aired national commercials promoting the region for years.

Workers at a Selma auto parts manufacturer have signed a petition asking the United Auto Workers union to leave them alone.

Nearly 80 percent of employees at the Lear Corporation-owned Renosol Seating plant signed a petition asking the UAW to stop investigating a nearly year-long dispute.

Wikimedia Commons

A leader in Alabama's charter fishing business says new federal limits on red snapper will only hurt the state's industry.

The federal government has reduced this year's recreational snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico from 11 days to nine days, starting June 1.

The president of the Orange Beach Fishing Association, Tom Steber, says there's a chance some anglers won't even come because the season is so short. He calls the length of the upcoming season "insane."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has opened a disaster response center in Mobile.

Grand opening was Monday for the 15,200-square foot facility. The facility will serve as the central coordination point for state, federal and local officials during a disaster or preparation for one.

Officials said the new center was built to withstand severe weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes. The facility includes an interior tornado shelter.

The opening Monday was attended by members of Congress and federal, state and local emergency responders.