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Dangerous thunderstorms to impact the state Monday night and Tuesday

Local updates and closures:
(Scroll down for information from Florida Storms)

Updated Tuesday, 9:12 a.m.

The Navarre Pier will be closed today, Tuesday, Jan. 9 as a panel of the pier was damaged from the storm, according to reports from South Santa Rosa News.

Previous coverage:

Florida Highway Patrol reports the Escambia Bay Bridge is open again to commercial motor vehicles.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is in effect for Okaloosa and Santa Rosa County until 7:15am CST. Details on the Florida Storms app. #flwx

Per Florida Highway Patrol, I-10 bridge over Escambia Bay is closed until further notice to high profile vehicles (all CMV type vehicles like semi-truck and trailer, box truck, etc).

A Tornado Watch for Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Washington County is in effect until 7:00am CST Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Hwy 399, between Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach is now closed in anticipation of the storm.

Escambia County Area Transit will suspend service early today, Jan. 8. Click here for the last departures.

The University of West Florida will close at 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8, and reopen at noon tomorrow, Jan. 9. This includes all classes, events, campus activities, and online courses. The UWF trolley will suspend operations after its last route at 6 p.m. and resume operations at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Normal University operations, classes, events, and campus activities will resume at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 9, unless conditions change, in which case, University officials will notify all students, faculty, and staff.

Escambia County Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, Jan. 9. All extra-curricular activities are canceled for Monday night. Residents can find sandbags at these locations:

  • Baars Field Athletic Park - 13001 Sorrento Road, Pensacola
  • Brent Athletic Park - 4711 N. W St., Pensacola
  • Don Sutton Park - 2320 Crabtree Church Road, Molino
  • Equestrian Center - 7750 Mobile Highway, Pensacola
  • Escambia County Road Department - 601 Highway 297-A, Pensacola 
  • Ferry Pass Middle School - 8355 Yancey Lane, Pensacola (sand will be on the northwest corner of school property on Parazine Street)
  • John R. Jones Jr. Athletic Park - 555 E. Nine Mile Road, Pensacola
  • Travis M. Nelson Park -  4541 County Road 4, Pensacola

In Santa Rosa County, a cold-weather shelter will be open Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Milton. For more information, click here.  

Santa Rosa County after-school activities are canceled for today, January 8. This includes all sports and the District 1 Town Hall. Community Schools/Latchkey will remain open until 6 p.m.

School and after-school activities for Tuesday, January 9 have been canceled. Students and staff will resume their regular schedules on Wednesday, January 10.

The Gulf Islands National Seashore will close the Santa Rosa Area to include Highway 399 beginning at 6 p.m. January 8, in preparation for incoming weather.

Okaloosa County School District has canceled school for tomorrow, Jan. 9. There will be no after-school activities including extracurricular activities and tutoring on Monday, Jan. 8.

Waterfront Rescue Mission, located at 348 W. Herman Ave., will open its severe weather shelter on Monday, Jan. 8, at 3 p.m. for individuals seeking temporary shelter from the storm.

There will be no fee for anyone seeking shelter from the storm, and Waterfront will be working with community partners to ensure anyone seeking shelter will be accommodated. More info here.

Florida Storms Report:

Just a few days after a cold front brought heavy rain to the Sunshine State and a few strong thunderstorms, including one that spawned a tornado over Ft. Lauderdale, another storm system is taking aim at Florida. And this one is forecasted to be much stronger than its predecessor. Strong straight-line winds, large hail, and a few tornadoes, some of which could be strong, are all possible as the next storm system impacts Florida Monday night and throughout the day Tuesday.

On Monday morning, an intense mid and upper-level disturbance was positioned over the Southern Plains. Winds in the mid and upper levels were quite strong, and a warm and humid airmass from the Gulf of Mexico was being drawn northward. At the same time, surface low pressure was deepening over the Southern Plains. Widespread rain and thunderstorm activity was already being produced by the system over eastern Colorado and New Mexico and throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Through the day on Monday, the surface low is forecasted to intensify, aided by the strong disturbance in the mid and upper levels. The core of the system should track through the Plains toward the Midwest, dragging both a warm front and a cold front through the Central Gulf Coast and Southeast. The passage of both these fronts will produce the threat for multiple rounds of severe weather across parts of Florida Monday night and Tuesday.

Round I: Warm front passage

As of the latest model guidance, a strong warm front should lift from south to north through the length of the state of Florida overnight Monday into the pre-dawn hours Tuesday. Widespread light to moderate rain rates are expected from the Panhandle to North Florida during this time, however the environment will be able to support a few rotating thunderstorms. As such, there is an isolated risk for hail, damaging straight line winds, and stray tornadoes overnight Monday into early Tuesday over the Panhandle and North Florida as the warm front tracks northward.

Round II: Cold front and Potentially Dangerous Squall Line

Forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center and local National Weather Service offices are more concerned with hazards posed by and directly ahead of the second round of storms. After the warm front lifts northward, a cold front should barrel through the state of Florida from west to east. Directly ahead of this boundary, winds are expected to stiffen. Sustained winds of 25-35 mph are likely, and frequent gusts between 35 and 45 mph are possible. Wind alerts have already been issued for the Panhandle and North Florida, valid for most of the day Tuesday. These conditions should immediately precede a squall line of dangerous thunderstorms directly along the leading edge of the cold front.

As of observational and forecast data from Monday morning, the primary hazard from these squall line thunderstorms will be straight line wind gusts between 60 and 80 mph. These conditions could down tree limbs, trees, and power lines, and any unsecured objects may be lofted into the air. Scattered power outages are possible. In addition, a few strong tornadoes and isolated instances of large hail are not out of the realm of possibility.

The latest time of arrival forecasts are as follows:

Pensacola: 10 PM-1 AM CST for warm front storms, 4 AM – 6 AM CST for squall line

Panama City: 11 PM – 1 AM CST for warm front storms, 5 AM – 7 AM for squall line

Tallahassee: 3 AM – 7 AM EST for warm front storms, 9 AM to 12 PM EST for squall line

Jacksonville: 2 PM – 5 PM EST for squall line

Gainesville: 2 PM – 5 PM EST for squall line

Tampa: 6 PM – 9 PM EST for squall line

Orlando: 6 PM – 9 PM EST for squall line

Melbourne: 6 PM – 9 PM EST for squall line

Fort Myers: 9 PM to 1 AM Wednesday for squall line

Fort Pierce: 9 PM to 1 AM Wednesday for squall line

Miami: 11 PM to 5 AM Wednesday for squall line

Readers are encouraged to continue checking the forecast, as details may change. In addition, we encourage everyone to check to ensure they have multiple ways of receiving weather alerts and are prepared to quickly seek shelter if a severe thunderstorm or tornado threatens their area.