GRIDLOCK: Destin awakes to ice, gridlock

Matt Algarin
Late Tuesday night, Sarah Hargis posted "Like you haven't gotten enough ... more ice pictures! Literally stuck in my car in Destin with frozen windshield wipers." Hargis was one of hundreds of residents who shared photos of a rare display of winter weather in Destin.

UPDATE: 11:20 a.m.

All lanes of traffic on the Brooks Bridge and the Marler Bridge are now open.

Thursday update: With the Mid-Bay Bridge still closed for icy conditions, commuters were relying on The Brooks Bridge in Fort Walton Beach and Marler Bridge in Destin to get into the city. Both spans were open in a limited capacity, and deputies were reportedly escorting motorists across the bridges. Traffic was backed up all the way to Eglin parkway as motorists craweld their way into the city.

Wednesday UPDATE: Destin and 30A are pretty much ghost towns this morning. Roads are icy, bridges are blocked, and employees were pondering if they should go to work.

Destin restaurant operator Preston Green writes "Hwy. 98 is rediculous right now. I slid through an intersection and wasn't doing 20 mph. Had to put the truck in 4-wheel drive just to get off the curve. Destin is nuts right now. People need to stay INSIDE unless they absolutely have to go somewhere or until it heats up and this ice melts and thats coming from the one who decided to open Another Broken Egg this morning."

At about 8 a.m., the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office posted: "We are encouraging everyone to stay off area roads as we are receiving numerous reports of traffic accidents due to icy conditions on roads and bridges. Those conditions are expected to continue throughout the morning."

Angel McCurdy with the Northwest Florida Daily News spoked to a representative of Okaloosa County Public Works. They said all roads are iced over and to avoid travel if possible. Sand is not being used, "there's just not enough."

In Walton County, all roads from I-10 to the Alabama state line were closed and only people with emergencies were being allowed to travel. FHP had closed I-10 from mile marker 112 to Pensacola.

"The last time I needed an ice scraper, was 10 years ago and 1,300 miles north of Destin," Greg LaGrasso said.

Complicating matters further, temps weren't expected to rise much above freezing Wednesday. Forecasters suggested that temps would be above freezing sometime after noon for about 2 to 6 hours, leaving residents to wonder if enough ice could melt before temps dove below freezing again.

As of 8:30 a.m., it was 26 degrees in Destin but felt like 12 with the wind chill. A low of 28 was predicted over night for Wednesday.

The prospect of an icy couple days had school officials regrouping to discuss the situation. Is a third snow day, err ice day, in our future? Katie Tammen at the Northwest Florida Daily News reported that "Schools are talking about how to handle tomorrow right now since it doesn't look like the ice is leaving."

— William Hatfield

RELATED STORY: Some bridges closed and others treacherous for travelers (UPDATE)

‘So cool': Longtime Destinites reflect on days of Destin's snowy past

Show us your snow and ice photos  

An update on road closings from Okaloosa County Public works:

Local Bridge and Road Update (Jan. 29 - 9:35 a.m.)

Several local bridges and roads are currently closed. Officials are asking people to stay off bridges and roads today. Stay tuned to the Okaloosa County Public Safety Facebook page and this website for updates.

Current Closings (9:05 a.m. Jan. 29):

Midnight report:

After hours of freezing rain and a blast of wintry weather overnight, the grass is crunchy and cars are caked in ice in Destin. The chance of snow accumulation seemed to fade, though forecasters say there is still a chance of catching the white stuff fall between 2 and 7 a.m. As a wintry mix of rain and sleet continues to fall, the National Weather Service offered this guidance: "Morning Commute? Icy & treacherous road conditions now WILL CONTINUE through the morning hours!" See the latest photos from Destin on our Facebook page. CLICK HERE.



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