Thursday, January 30, 2014

1/30/14  Since most owners do not live in Bay County here is what went on during the storm as reported in the local newspaper:

A storm to remember

Icicles hang near the M.B. Miller County Pier in Panama City Beach on Wednesday.
Icicles hang near the M.B. Miller County Pier in Panama City Beach on Wednesday.
Andrew Wardlow | The News Herald
Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 18:26 PM.
PANAMA CITY Years from now, the numbers won’t tell the story about the winter storm of 2014 that effectively shut down the better part of Bay and surrounding counties with a flurry of sleet and ice that made even a walk outside to pick up your paper an adventure.
The 0.07 inches of precipitation recorded at Northwest FloridaBeaches International Airport won’t reflect the closure of BayCounty ’s bridges, the only real east-west arteries for traffic, or the harried parents trying to juggle getting to work with taking care of their families.
The relatively small number of recorded power outages won’t tell anyone about the sometimes befuddled residents taking a crack at getting their iced-down car doors open, or trying to chip ice off their windshields.
All of it combined, though, to bring Northwest Florida its worst winter storm in a quarter century, one that shed just enough of its winter baggage to shut down schools for two days or more, freeze out motorists, cancel flights at the airport and generally bring things to a halt in an area not used to such events.
Many businesses like grocery stores and restaurants closed early and opened late and many people made the smart choice to stay home. Kids took advantage of the day off and the slippery stuff to enjoy something they may not see again here.
Law enforcement officers staked out places like the HathawayBridge to keep motorists off and safe and to escort emergency vehicles and those in dire need across. Dirt dumped on the bridge to provide some sort of traction stood in stark contrast to the white sheet of sleet it replaced.

10:45 A.M. 1/29/14 

UPDATE: Hathaway and West Bay bridges still closed

Hathway Bridge Wednesday morning nwfsnow
The Hathway Bridge Wednesday morning as seen from a marina landing balcony.
Larry Autry
Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 11:42 AM.
PANAMA CITY — The Hathaway and West Bay bridges and the Bay County Courthouse are all closed.
The Bay County Courthouse is closed Wednesday, with the hopes to reopen it Thursday. An official decision on its reopening will be made Wednesday afternoon, said Jan Shadburn, court administrator.
Though the court is closed, the first appearance and shelter hearings are still taking place. Once arrested, one must receive a first appearance hearing within 24 hours, so they must continue. And shelter hearings are for juveniles and must be done in a timely fashion, Shadburn said.
The judges can do the hearings remotely, though. Meanwhile, court filing deadlines will be extended an extra day for each day the courthouse is closed, a process referred to as “tolling.”
Some businesses in Bay County are also closed and the Bay Town Trolley is shut down until 1 p.m.
Gulf County has declared a state of emergency. 
The Northwest Florida Beach International Airport (ECP) is reporting multiple cancellations and delays. All outgoing Delta Air Lines flights are canceled until after 2 p.m. Wednesday. Incoming Delta flights are canceled until 7:30 p.m.
Southwest Airlines is showing no problems with outgoing flights, but an incoming flight from Baltimore-Washington International had to be diverted to Nashville. Southwest has canceled an 11:20 a.m. flight from Nashville to ECP, but other incoming flights are not affected at this time, according to ECP's flights information website.
Superintendent Bill Husfelt has issued an updated closure message due to changes in weather conditions.
All Bay District public schools and offices/departments are closed today for students and all employees, according to a Wednesday morning news release. Regular operations should resume on Thursday. However, the weather will continue to be monitored by school officials and any changes to the schedule will be sent through media, email and posted to the district web.
Currently, several roads and bridges on the state highway system in Northwest Florida are closed including nearly 200 miles of Interstate 10 from the Florida / Alabama line east to mile marker 181 in Gadsden County, officials wrote in a news release. Florida's Department of Transportation is concentrating all efforts on keeping traffic on U.S. 90 flowing east and west in The Panhandle. Equipment is loaded with dry sand and crews are deployed to affected areas. Crews are monitoring closed roadways for conditions and stranded motorists.
"Weather conditions continue to deteriorate creating hazardous road conditions," The news release states. "FDOT encourages residents to stay indoors and avoid venturing out unless it is an emergency."
Motorists are reminded to be watchful of other drivers and road conditions and to be on the lookout for iced roads. The combination of moisture and freezing temperatures are ideal to form patches of ice on roads. Drivers should remain alert and drive with care. Drivers are reminded to use caution and drive at a reduced speed during this time.
Drivers may call Florida 511 from their mobile phones. Additionally, updates will be provided as conditions develop at www.FL511.comand on Twitter @myfdot_nwfl.
Two public meetings have been canceled in Panama City due to weather.
One meeting was to discuss millions of dollars of early Gulf restoration projects. The projects were coming through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process.
The Northwest Florida Water Management District also won’t have its regional water supply plan meeting, but it will be rescheduled.
The water management district’s offices are closed Wednesday, but will reopen Thursday.

Previous Update:
PANAMA CITY — Road conditions remain hazardous for much of The Panhandle Wednesday morning.
The Hathaway Bridge was closed around 4 a.m., and the Florida Department of Transportation reports the West Bay bridge (State 79) over the intracoastal waterway has closed. The Bailey Bridge (State 77) between Southport and Lynn Haven is open but it is being monitored closely by law enforcement. In Panama City both the Tarpon Dock and Massalina Bayou bridges are closed.
BCSO is warning that the Callaway Bayou Bridge on State 22 is dangerous and that drivers should take care when crossing.
Most of the businesses and government offices are closed today. That includes Naval Support Activity Panama City, Tyndall Air Force Base, Bay District Schools which is now closed not only to students and teachers but also all employees, Florida State University Panama City and Gulf Coast State College.
Gulf Power is reporting that 59 customers in Bay County are without power. A few hundred people are without power in Walton and Holmes Counties.   
Panama City officials said motorists should be prepared for temporary road closures. PCPD officials also reported snow in Millville.
The only exit from Panama City Beach is now to the west — into Walton County via U.S. 98. The U.S. 331 bridge is closed, as well.
Sleet continued to fall in downtown Panama City, and sleet was reported on Panama City Beach, as well. 
Sheriff Frank McKeithen described his venture across The Bailey Bridge this morning as a mystery. 
" I didn’t know if I was going to slide or if I was going to go straight," he said. He added that deputies would be working with drivers to help them as much as possible, to get information out about road closures and detours. 
Panama City Beach Chief Drew Whitman also has officers on the road watching out for motorists.
"A lot of people are not used to driving on ice so we’re trying to keep them from driving too fast," he said. He added that most of the side streets on the beach were iced over and there is a concern that drivers will attempt to stop on a side street and slide into a main thoroughfare like Back Beach Road. Whitman is asking people to stay home and refrain from driving around and taking photographs.
The biggest problem area right now is near Ripley's Believe it or Not on Front Beach Road, he added.
It is currently 28 degrees in Bay County and it feels like 18. The temperature is expected to rise into the 30s before the day is over and sink back down to 25 tonight. Tomorrow, the forecast calls for temperatures in the 50s and sunshine.   
5:30 a.m.:
PANAMA CITY — Temperatures around Bay County hovered at or just under freezing at 5 a.m., and some parts of the county may not see temperatures rise above freezing till Wednesday afternoon.
Tyndall Air Force Base was reporting 32 degrees, but upper 20s were reported along the beaches and downtown Panama City.
Another heavy round of frozen precipitation — freezing rain, sleet and snow — was headed off the Gulf of Mexico around 5:30 a.m.--
5 a.m.:
PANAMA CITY — Bridges throughout the area are icing up, and some rural roads are becoming hazardous.
The only bridge that has closed so far is the Hathaway Bridge, although the Florida Highway Patrol reports. The West Bay Bridge, which carries State 79 over the Intracoastal Waterway, has not closed but is ice over. Ice and snow were reported ont the Holmes Creek Bridge near Graceville, Wrights Creek Bridge near Bonifay, Chipola River bridge near Campbellton, Bear Creek Bridge (U.S. 231) in Bayou George and the North Bay Bridge between Lynn Haven and Southport.

Meanwhile 300 miles north in Atlanta: