TROPICAL STORM UPDATE: Seafood Festival canceled indefinitely, city gears up

Matt Algarin
The 9 a.m. tracking map for Tropical Storm Karen.

With Tropical Storm Karen taking aim at the Gulf Coast, the venerable Destin Seafood Festival has been canceled, and Destin is on hurricane alert with a watch in effect from Grand Isle, LA., eastward to Indian Pass.

"This decision did not come lightly, and we will continue to keep the public informed," a post on the Seafood Festival Facebook Page reads.

“Rain does not scare us. If it was just a rain storm we’d press on, but this is tropical conditions,” Jim Green, chairman of the festival this year, told the Northwest Florida Daily News. “We can’t subject our vendors, patrons and property owners to that; it’s something we have to take into consideration.

“This decision has made me physically sick.” Read more from the Daily News, click here.

Steve Miller from the National Weather Service in Mobile, Ala., told The Log that there are a couple of factors working against the storm, but residents can expect to see rough surf over the weekend.

"People should definitely stay off of the beaches Friday through Monday," he said. "At this point, the absolute worst from what we’re hearing from the Hurricane Center is a minimal hurricane of 73 miles per hour."

Tropical Storm Karen is currently moving to the north-northwest and is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Cast late this weekend. Rain and wind will precede the storm.

Reports show that surface winds of 50 to 60 mph have been measured in portions of the storm's circulation, according to the Weather Channel. Karen is the 11th named storm this season.

The storm could bring 4 to 8 inches of rain to the area, according to a forecast from Weather Underground hurricane analyst Jeff Masters.

In Destin, city leaders will be meeting this morning to discuss tropical storm preparations, Public Information Manager Doug Rainer told The Log. He said the city will be issuing advisories through their emergency alert system. To sign up for alerts from the city, CLICK HERE.

Currently, city crews are preparing all city buildings, vehicles and property for hurricane-strength weather. Today and tomorrow, public services crews will be checking and clearing storm drains throughout the city and making sure all pumps are ready for use. Public services crew will be on call this weekend, ready to respond. Parks crews are removing loose items from the parks including trash cans and flags. Crews will continue to monitor all parks as the storm progresses.

The Okaloosa County Commission will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the county EOC. The city will coordinate with the county regarding all emergency operations.

Joe’s Bayou Boat Launch fees are being waived effective immediately to allow boats to be removed from the water. This will be in effect until further notice.

Sand and sandbags will be available at the city’s public services maintenance yard at 3949 Commons Drive. This information will be sent to the news and posted on the city’s website today. All City of Destin outdoor programs, games, practices and rentals were also canceled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

With the storm's potential impact still a few days away, Miller told The Log the best thing for people to do is watch for updated reports.

"It's just keeping your eyes and ears open at this point," he said.

To see the latest from the National Hurricane Center, CLICK HERE.

To read updates from WeatherUnderground,  CLICK HERE.

To learn about what to do before, during and after a storm, view the city of Destin's Hurricane Guide.