Escambia County officials are monitoring Tropical Storm Gordon, as it’s expected to move by northwest Florida en route to somewhere in Mississippi.
The watch is on for tropical storm-force winds, generally starting about 5:00 (Tuesday) evening and going onto about 9:00 [Tuesday night],” said Escambia County spokeswoman Joy Tsubooka. The big concern, she said, is the condition of bridges in the storm in high winds, and the safety of drivers trying to navigate them.
“All of our bridges that are longer and going over large bodies of water are the ones that we’re most concerned about,” Tsubooka said.
One developing positive is a reduction in predicted storm surge, to about 1-3 feet. A drawback to that is that the highest surge will coincide with high tide Tuesday evening.
“We’re also going to have winds that will continue to push the water levels up, so it’s going to be slow to recede [Wednesday] morning,” said Tsubooka.
Forecasters are calling for 3-5 inches of rain from Gordon in the Panhandle, and perhaps more in some places. If you are out, it’s suggested that you get to your destination as soon as possible.
“Slow down; the roadways are going to be wet,” said Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Eddie Elmore. Residents in Escambia County are being asked to stay off the roads if possible, as wind gusts and flash flooding may cause serious road hazardous.
“The only thing we’re really expecting out of this system is some possible flooding,” said Elmore. “Just make sure you’re not going to cross any standing water, especially if it’s flowing water across the roadway. Typically if it’s flowing water across the roadway, the roadway could be washed out.”
If sustained winds reach at least 39 miles an hour, bridge closures will be ordered by the Florida Department of Transportation. But Elmore says that’s not likely to be the case for Gordon.
“We’re not anticipating any bridge closures or road closures due to the high winds from this system,” Elmore said. “But just make sure that you’re aware of the winds and possible wind gusts. “Just make sure you stay in between the lanes; make sure you’re controlling your vehicle and you’re attentive of the environment around you.”
If the electricity is knocked out, the traffic signals in that area will not be operating. In that case, Elmore says approach every intersection with extreme caution.
“We need to make sure that we’re treating them as a 4-way stop; and to never enter an intersection with the lights inoperative unless you’ve stopped and you’re aware of what’s coming into the intersection,” Elmore said.
After Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis, many of the area’s homes are hardened and should stand up to a tropical storm or borderline hurricane. Escambia County’s Joy Tsubooka says instead, pay attention to what’s out in the yard.
“Playground toys; your umbrellas, your lawn furniture,” said Tsubooka. “It’s not going to be a bad idea to go and secure some of that furniture so it doesn’t start flying around.”
As of 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, Tropical Storm Gordon was packing 70 mile an hour sustained winds – and is roughly 95 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. Movement is northwest at 15 miles an hour.