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Panhandle to get an early start on spring storm season

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Residents across the Florida Panhandle and South Alabama are buckling up for a bumpy ride from Mother Nature over the next couple of days.

“I would say within the next 12 hours, the bulk of the severe weather will start to roll through the Pensacola area. So we've got a few hours left to prep,” said Justin Ballard at the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network.

He says part of that prep should be taking down any outdoor decorations because the winds will be picking up.

“Wind gust upwards of 60 to 70 miles per hour. That's mainly going to be during the overnight Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, Ballard said. “So, we're talking especially after midnight, I think for you. In the Pensacola areas, the overnight storm setup is what's concerning. We've also got the risk for tornadoes.”

The bulk of the storm is expected to hit the area in the wee hours. Ballard says with the technology of today, staying abreast of the weather, and in turn staying safe, is not that big of a chore.

“Before you go to bed tonight,” said Ballard, “I want you to have multiple ways to get those severe weather alerts because there will likely be warnings issued whether it's severe thunderstorm or tornado during the overnight hours Tuesday into Wednesday morning. Obviously, that's a big part of the forecast for you over the next twelve to 24 hours.”

The system moving through the region, says Ballard, is notorious for producing quick, “spin-up” tornadoes.

“So that's one of the reasons why we urge people to have, especially with these overnight severe threats,” he said. “I've talked to you so many times over the last year or so of me being here, and it's for severe weather during the overnights. And like I said, I firmly believe there will be a few warnings issued tonight.”

And FPREN’s Justin Ballard encourages residents in the affected area to use this round of storms to prepare for the upcoming spring storm season.

“Have multiple ways to get those weather alerts, especially since this is kind of coming in during the overnight,” he said. “It looks like the main window for severe weather will be overnight [Tuesday] into early Wednesday, while a lot of us are asleep. So just make sure you've got more than one way to get those severe weather alerts and take shelter whenever a warning is issued.”

After the front leaves, temperatures will be in the 50s during the day and near freezing at night. Ferris Hill Baptist Church will open its shelter for the homeless and heatless tonight, and on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The church is located on Chaffin Street in Milton.