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Tampa rumbles to top of Zillow’s loudest metros ranking

The online real estate company used sound-mapping information collected by the National Park Service (yes, really) to compile its noisiest metros ranking.
Cars pack Interstate 275 south just past downtown Tampa. Downtown Tampa is the loudest neighborhood in the Tampa metropolitan area, which is the loudest metro in the nation, according to a Zillow analysis based on noise-mapping data collected in urban and rural areas nationwide by the National Park Service. (Times (2010) [Times (2010)]
Cars pack Interstate 275 south just past downtown Tampa. Downtown Tampa is the loudest neighborhood in the Tampa metropolitan area, which is the loudest metro in the nation, according to a Zillow analysis based on noise-mapping data collected in urban and rural areas nationwide by the National Park Service. (Times (2010) [Times (2010)]
Published Dec. 10, 2019

TAMPA — Tampa is the thumping heart of the noisiest metropolitan area in the United States — though you could argue it’s not that loud — and the city is at its noisiest near Interstates 4 and 275 between West Shore and Ybor City.

That’s the top line from a nationwide analysis of the nation’s noisiest metro areas done by Zillow, an online real estate company that keeps a lot of data on the housing market. For its ranking, Zillow used noise data gathered in urban areas by — who knew? — the U.S. National Park Service.

Let’s take a moment to unpack that: The Park Service says laws and policies require it to “conserve acoustic environments” for the enjoyment of park visitors. So it has a sound-mapping program that takes a lot of long-term noise measurements, not only inside its parks, but outside as well, in both urban and rural places all over the country. That data allows scientists to build a model to estimate how places would sound naturally, if people weren’t present. In a similar way, the agency also maps how light pollution impacts what it calls the “scenic canvas” of the night sky.

Zillow says it aggregated the Park Service’s sound map with its own neighborhood and metro boundary data to rank more than 900 metropolitan areas throughout the United States.

And how loud is Tampa? The analysis puts the average noise level for the metro area at just under 45.7 decibels. That’s not as loud as the 50 decibels of a quiet suburb, conversation at home, a large electrical transformer at a distance of 100 feet, according to noise source information from the Purdue University chemistry department.

This National Park Service map uses lighter colors to show the loudest, noisiest areas of Florida. The agency takes noise readings all over the country, in both rural and urban areas, to develop a model of what places would sound like if no people were present. The ultimate goal is to help it protect its parks as peaceful, quiet areas of refuge. (National Park Service map) [National Park Service]

While Zillow’s ranking is for the whole metro area, including St. Petersburg and Clearwater, the loudest neighborhoods in the region mostly are along the interstates in Tampa: downtown (the loudest at 57.2 decibels), along with Carver City, West Riverfront and Historic Ybor, plus Gray Gables, which is south and east of W Kennedy Boulevard and S Himes Avenue.

All of these are in the high 56- and low 57-decibel range. By comparison, 60 decibels is comparable to conversation in a restaurant or office, background music, or an air conditioner running 100 feet away.

Following Tampa on Zillow’s list of noisiest metros is the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area in second place, then Trenton, N.J., Cleveland and Milwaukee. Looking for quiet? Head to Rock Springs, Wyo..

RELATED: Downtown’s success creates noisy problem for St. Petersburg

RELATED: SoHo clubs bristle at Tampa’s tightening of noise ordinance

RELATED: Hush those barking dogs in Hillsborough or pay a fine of up to $500

RELATED: Noise ordinance, with changes, gets final approval in New Port Richey

Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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