Know before you go: Pinellas sheriff launches online tracking tool for crowded beaches

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is launching a new website it says will show, in real-time, whether the beach is open for visitors -- or at capacity and closed.

It's called the Beach Capacity Dashboard. The sheriff's office said every county beach and corresponding parking lot will have up-to-the-minute information so beachgoers can check the site before they head for the sand and avoid disappointment.

The agency hopes this tool will help prevent large crowds from forming and promote social distancing.

"I'd rather know before I came out here and find out that it's packed," said Adam Doll as he enjoyed Thursday on the beach at Treasure Island. "I certainly don't want to be in a crowd of people right now."

If the beach and/or parking lot is at capacity, it will be highlighted on the dashboard in red. If it is starting to fill up, it will be highlighted in yellow. Green means the beach and its parking lot are open.

There will be 300 deputies and officers monitoring the crowd sizes. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office also says they will use a helicopter to help with communications.

The new beach capacity website is live, but the data will not be visible and updated until Friday, May 8, 2020 at 1 p.m. at