Panhandle Winter Storm Yr Ender
Officials in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties joined the rest of the Florida Panhandle in late January, in bracing for a rare taste of winter precipitation.
A winter storm warning was put into effect for the western Florida Panhandle, as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico joined forces with a major blast of Arctic air. Dave Eversole at the National Weather Service, said that would mean sleet, freezing rain and possibly some snow.
Escambia County’s Emergency Operations Center activated at midnight on January 28. Emergency Management Chief John Dosh placed the center at Level-2, with only key agencies on hand. Besides staying off the roads, residents should also prepare at home for another round of below-freezing temperatures.
The City of Pensacola suspended non-essential operations on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 28 and 29. Also closing were public schools in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties. Escambia Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said what guided their decision to close was the possibility of freezing rain and sleet accumulations.
Also closed were all Catholic schools in the three counties, along with UWF, Pensacola State College, Northwest Florida State College, and Pensacola Christian Academy.
Officials advised residents to stay off the roads, to avoid the frozen precipitation that creates hazards. Lt. Steve Preston at the Florida Highway Patrol’s Pensacola office said people needing to venture out to use extreme caution and watch out for “black ice” on the pavement.
Gulf Power Company had more than a dozen crews ready to deploy across the EscaRosa region. Many of them had been in Texas assisting with power restoration there.
Military bases in the Panhandle also braced for the winter storm. Naval Air Station Pensacola limited operations; NAS Whiting Field ceased air operations for about 24 hours. And non-mission critical personnel at Eglin Air Force Base were sent home for a couple of days.