BREAKING: Tropical Storm Debby and Panama City Beach [Updated]

by June 24, 2012 • 1 comment

If you’ve been to the beach in the last 24 hours, you’ve seen the increase in wave activity and noticed the double red flags.  Tropical Storm Debby is churning in the Gulf right now and is giving forecasters little hint as to where she’s going.

I’m going to use this post to keep us up to date on important information as to where she’s going, what she’s doing and what we need to do about it.

First off, I keep an eye on a couple places to make sure I know what’s going on:

Current Status

UPDATED 6-26-12 1940 cst

Whew!  That was a close one.  Initial reports had Tropical Storm Debby Downer lingering until Friday of this week.  But with a little westerly wind the storm moved to the east and off of us yesterday afternoon allowing the sun to peek out for a bit before sunset.

Today was beautiful with nary a sign of the previous day’s storm that threatened vacations all up and down the beach.  I’ve found a few isolated signs of wind damage and a few lingering puddles, but overall our area fared well, and we can get back to enjoying the beach.

The water is still brownish looking and I personally am predicting it to return to the normal emerald green by week’s end just in time for the July 4th week!

UPDATED 6-25-12 1515 cst

Things have changed quite a bit since yesterday evening.  The projection has changed, the storm’s begun to move and it’s picked up speed!  Currently it’s moving northeast at 5 mph and projections are putting it towards the coast of Cedar Key by Wednesday morning.  Hopefully the rain will be gone from here by then.  Currently the wind speed is around 45 mph and it’s traveling at 5 mph.

One of the things that has been extremely challenging here is the direction in which the rain is coming – from the northeast.  The rain has been blowing in sideways hitting the back side of condominium buildings and causing front doors to leak all up and down the beach.

If you’ve been out to the beach, you’ll notice things have calmed down a lot.  While double red flags are still flying (and waters are NOT SAFE to enter), the surf looks much more calm.

Around town, there are visible signs of wind damage in some areas, although light, and there still remains a Tropical Storm Warning from Destin to Englewood Florida.  Areas west of there have been cleared.

AGAIN – keep an eye on the links above as they’ll have up to the minute updates on what this thing is doing.

  • Location: The eye is 125 miles from Panama City Beach, lat/long – 28.4, -85.8
  • Wind Speed: 45 mph
  • Direction: Heading northeast at 5 mph
  • Bay County Warnings: [Tropical Storm Warning] from Destin to Englewood Florida. 
Current Satellite Image


What we should do to prepare.

Being a vacation rental property manager in Panama City Beach, I have a variety of concerns with a Tropical System comes our way.

Are we safe?

Right now, we are.  But this could change over the next couple hours/days.  The best thing we can do is keep an eye on the storm.  At this point, it’s not likely we’ll be hit catastrophically by a devastating storm.  The most we’ll likely see in Panama City Beach is 50 mph wind (max), rain and storm surge.

Do I need to make preparations at my 35 individual condos to protect them?

My experience has shown me that all condos that are interior are rarely impacted by high winds.  The buildings cut through the wind and the closer to the building you are, the less the wind on the balcony.  I was recently at a friend’s condo (Mr. Castle!) in Tropic Winds, and his end location gave him a very neat and large balcony that has a whole corner that’s open with guard rails.  He told me he loses tables, chairs and other items with regularity.

So, if you’re on an end unit or have a wrap around balcony, pull your stuff in if the wind kicks up.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry too much.  BUT – don’t take my word for it, use it as advice, but keep an eye on your units!

What concerns do I have about my guests and how can I help?

We’ll be calling all our guests and letting them know what we know, and telling them where they can go to look for more information.  Our rental policy states that if we have a mandatory evacuation, then we’ll refund their rental monies for the nights they didn’t get to stay with us.

It’s common for people to get upset or concerned when tropical systems come through, but generally we are all pretty safe and there is usually nothing to worry about.

What should we do should conditions get worse?

We need to keep an eye on the system, and if it gets worse, we’ll need to take the appropriate action based on the severity of the situation.  The best thing we can do is keep an eye on our local warnings issues to us by NOAA (above in the ‘warnings’ section).

More about the hurricane rating system

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane’s present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average.

  • Tropical Depression: 0 – 38 mph wind speeds
  • Tropical Storm: 38 – 73 mph wind speeds
  • Category 1 Hurricane: 74 – 95 mph wind speeds
  • Category 2 Hurricane: 96 – 110 mph wind speeds
  • Category 3 Hurricane: 111 – 130 mph wind speeds
  • Category 4 Hurricane: 131 – 155 mph wind speeds
  • Category 5 Hurricane: 156 mph and greater wind speeds

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1 Comment


1 Cathy June 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Our last evening on the beach was Friday, June 22……. we had noticed a pick-up in the wave size and the roughness. I think this was Debby easing on into the panhandle then.
We left PCB around 11 am on Sat. 6/23 and the dark clouds were fastly moving in….. but, no rain. Sunday, 6/24 I checked a few webcams and was amazed at the HUGE difference in the waves & lots of rain. Today, Monday 6/25 it seems to be receding……I do not believe the waves are as bad as yesterday. The cam I looked at was right around Pier Park.
Be safe always 🙂