7 p.m. update

Heavy rains are spreading inland over portion of the Gulf Coast. Storm surge will increase later tonight, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Complete listing of closures and cancellations >>

Nestor is located about 215 miles southwest of Panama City. Maximum sustained winds are 6o mph and the storm continues to move at 22mph with a minimum central pressure of 999 millibars.

A shelter is open in Bay County at Dean Bozeman High School at this time. The shelter will remain open until noon on Saturday.

Florida Department of Transportation and local emergency management officials are monitoring the storm to determine if bridge closures are necessary. Sustained winds of 40 mph or greater must be present before bridge closures are considered.

6pm - Chilly, rainy, breezy night for coastal communities as Tropical Storm #Nestor continues to move across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Further inland, expect off-and-on rain tonight and also chilly temperatures. pic.twitter.com/pWEYTWR8Ug

— NWS Mobile (@NWSMobile) October 18, 2019 Bay County Emergency Management Frankie Lumm was confident it would move through the area fast enough that heavy flooding would be avoided.

Lumm, said "our bridges, with the wind speeds we're expecting, really shouldn't be affected.

Extracurricular activities, including football games have been canceled for Panhandle schools and the Destin Fishing Rodeo has closed the scales for the day and will re-open on Saturday at 2 p.m.

List of our County EMA webpages* for coastal Alabama & northwest Florida - lots of information tailored to YOUR county! #HurricanePrep

*Regular Reminder: we do not cover the coastal Mississippi counties, that is @NWSNewOrleans. pic.twitter.com/qq7akJRJ4f

— NWS Mobile (@NWSMobile) October 17, 2019 4 p.m. update

Tropical Storm Nestor continued its high speed wobble towards Bay County Friday afternoon, and its lack of stability appeared to give Northwest Floridians hope that the impact of the storm would not be too great.

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The storm was boasting sustained winds of about 60 mph, but it was moving fast enough that Bay County Emergency Management Frankie Lumm was confident it would move through the area fast enough that heavy flooding would be avoided.

High winds were heavily concentrated on the right side of the storm, and that allowed Bay County officials to predict a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet, as opposed to the 3 to 5 feet projected Thursday night.

Okaloosa County two counties west of Bay, was calling for potential wind speeds from Nestor of between 39 to 57 miles per hour. "The wind threat has remained nearly steady from the previous (1 p.m.) assessment," a news release said.

Extracurricular activities, including football games have been cancelled for Panhandle schools and the Destin Fishing Rodeo has closed the scales for the day and will re-open on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Click for a complete list of closings >>

The storm is located about 280 miles southwest of Panama City at 22 mph with a minimum central pressure of 999 millibars.

Florida Department of Transportation and local emergency management officials are monitoring the storm to determine if bridge closures are necessary. Sustained winds of 40 mph or greater must be present before bridge closures are considered.

Lumm, said "our bridges, with the wind speeds we're expecting, really shouldn't be affected.

1 p.m. update

The disturbance that has been churning in the Gulf of Mexico has now reached tropical storm status.

Nestor, called for maximum sustained winds of approximately 60 mph with higher gusts, according to a National Hurricane Center advisory posted at 1 p.m. Some strengthening was expected later in the day but the storm was predicted to weaken upon making landfall. The minimum central pressure is 1001 millibars and is a little over 300 miles southwest of Panama City.

Skies were overcast and light rain fell across the Panhandle for most of the day Friday as residents of Northwest Florida braced for the worst and hoped for the best with Tropical Storm Nestor zeroing in on the region.

The weather system that Mobile National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Beaman described as “very, very, very close” to tropical storm strength at mid-morning Friday had secured that status by early afternoon.

The storm was moving east in the direction of Panama City at about 22 miles per hour and Frankie Lumm, Bay County’s emergency management specialist said he expected weather to start deteriorating at around 2 or 3 p.m. and landfall near Panama City Beach between 8 and 10 p.m.

Lumm said at an 11 a.m. press conference the speed with which the storm was moving would reduce the chances of sustained rainfall and therefore flooding, and he labeled storm surge estimated at 1 to 3 feet “very positive for us.”

While Nestor is expected to pass over many of the same areas that were devastated by Hurricane Michael only a year ago, and Lumm said he had detected some trepidation among the locals, most in Bay County seemed confident that this was a storm they could weather.

“From a city standpoint and based on the people I’ve talked to, I don’t see any kind of stress level. I don’t see or sense that this is anything we can’t handle,” said Al Cathey, the mayor of Mexico Beach, where Michael made landfall last Oct. 10. “We got kicked in the teeth by Michael, and I don’t think a tropical depression is gonna create any type level of anxiety that is gonna cause us problems.”

Tropical Storm Nestor was approaching Tyndall Air Force Base barely one week after the first anniversary of Michael, which all but leveled the facility.

In an Oct. 11 letter to Tyndall personnel noting the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Michael, 325th Fighter Wing commander Col. Brian Laidlaw, who also is the base commander, wrote, “Like nearly all of you, I've spent the last year focusing on each day, one at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. ... We have a long way to go. It's not time for a victory party, but as a recent visitor to our base pointed out to me ... you guys are winning a batting title one single at a time.”

Bay County officials announced the opening of an emergency shelter at Dean Bozeman School on State Highway 77 in Panama City. The shelter will open at 5 p.m. and was to be shut down at noon Saturday, officials said. Lumm said it had been decided to open the facility for those who might not have returned to secure shelter since Hurricane Michael.

Walton County officials upgraded to a Level 2 emergency status Friday and were monitoring the storm. Okaloosa and Santa Rosa county emergency managers were doing the same.

The storm was expected to bring between two and four inches of rains to Northwest Florida. High surf and dangerous rip currents were predicted and some local flooding was expected.

Tropical Storm Nestor didn’t keep participants in Okaloosa County’s Destin Fishing Rodeo from getting out into the Gulf of Mexico Friday morning. Helen Donaldson, the executive director of the Rodeo, said fishermen were reporting bumpy seas well out from Destin Harbor, but “in close it was not that bad.”

And the fishing was good enough that a second place sized king mackerel had been brought in early for weighing, Donaldson said.

Rodeo officials did order a temporary halt to the fishing festivities Friday afternoon, however, announcing the rodeo closed at 3:30 p.m. Friday until 2 p.m. Saturday.