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

by August 26, 2012 • 5 comments

Tropical Storm Isaac is strengthening and moving fast.  Projections have kept fairly consistent, although “spaghetti models” have continued to move its trajectory further west with each update. One of the refreshing things about this storm is that it seems to be moving quickly (17-20 mph), so when it hits, it’ll blow over quickly.

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 8-27-12 0907 cst

As this storm grows older, and moves further west, the threat level regarding wind diminishes for Panama City Beach.  However, a still serious concern is the amount of rain Tropical Storm Isaac will deliver to Northwest Florida.  Officials are estimating 12 to 14 inches of rain in an already saturated area over the next 4 days and are warning of “serious flooding.”

Tropical Storm Isaac has not yet been upgraded to a hurricane as the maximum sustained winds are still just 65 mph, however strengthening is expected to occur in the next 12 hours.  Projections are now saying it will be a category 1 (as opposed to a cat 2) when it makes landfall.

We’ve updated all the imagery on this page to reflect the most current status.

UPDATED 8-26-12 2122 cst

Tropical Storm Isaac projections continue to move it west with the “cone of uncertainty’s” eastern border shifting to Destin (previously Indian Pass).  Currently there is a hurricane warning for those between Morgan City, LA and Destin FL and a hurricane watch from east of Destin to Indian Pass.

Walton County has closed their schools Monday and Tuesday, however Bay County District Schools will be in session as normal with the exception of Deane Bozeman School, which will be closed.  Bozeman functions as a special needs shelter during inclement weather periods.

In a meeting held this evening at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center, it was released that Bay County residents should expect over a foot of rainfall between now and Thursday and that flooding will be a large part of the problems that come from Isaac.  Some are expecting winds in the 60-80 mph range with tropical storm force winds as early as 8 pm Monday evening.

As of this report, Isaac is still a Tropical Storm with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.  Right now south and central Florida is being pelted with heavy rain and moderate wind (20-40 mph).

UPDATED 8-26-12 1236 cst (pm)

Initial projections had Isaac coming right towards us.  In fact, Highway 79 was directly at the middle of the cone.  As we’ve been watching Tropical Storm Isaac the last 36 hours, the forecast has moved it west.  Right now the eye of the storm is almost directly due north of Havana, Cuba.  Isaac is currently a tropical storm, but it is expected to be upgraded to a Category 1 in the next 12 hours.  The maximum sustained winds currently are 65 mph.

If the storm continues on its projected path, we’ll see the most dangerous side of the storm (the east side) on Tuesday.  The further west it moves, the less dramatic of an impact we’ll see.

Tropical Storm ISAAC Public Advisory Page

Summary of watches and warnings in effect…

A hurricane warning is in effect for…
* East of Morgan City Louisiana to Destin Florida…Including Metropolitan New Orleans…Lake Pontchartrain…And Lake Maurepas

A hurricane watch is in effect for…
* intracoastal city to morgan city louisiana

A tropical storm warning is in effect for…
* the florida peninsula from ocean reef southward on the east coast and from tarpon springs southward on the west coast
* florida keys…Including the dry tortugas and florida bay
* east of destin florida to the suwannee river
* intracoastal city to morgan city louisiana

A tropical storm watch is in effect for…
* east of sabine pass to west of intracoastal city louisiana

Current Satellite Image

Photo credit.

Current Spaghetti Model

Photo credit.

Current Wind Speeds

Photo Credit

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.  However, this should all be taken very seriously and you should take proper precautions relative to your circumstances.

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 (again, opinion).

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).  If we’re issued evacuation orders, we need to follow the direction of local authorities.

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

Forecast model image credit. 

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1 April Smith August 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm

My family and I are actually supposed to be coming down for Labor Day weekend. We hope we still get to and that we have some fun in the SUN time!


2 Jeannie Fortune August 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm



3 Jeannie Fortune August 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Just on stand by. Waiting to hear where it’s going to hit… Very nervous cause I live in PCB, FL


4 pam blair August 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm