Straight line winds damage Destin

Annie Blanks
The Destin Log
The early morning storm on Sunday rearranged the upstairs back deck at AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

A spurt of bad weather blew through the area early Sunday morning, bringing with it heavy winds that caused damage to businesses and residential structures in Destin.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office reported downed trees and power lines, destroyed fences and damage to businesses in the Stahlman Avenue corridor between Azalea Drive and Kelly Street. People also reported damage on the Destin harbor.

Jim Westbrook, owner of the New Florida Girl boat that is docked at the harbor, said the microburst was a “real freak” and damaged several of the pilings around his boat and others.

“It was blowing about 20 (miles per hour) and when that little microburst came through it kicked up over 100 (miles per hour) and lasted less than 10 seconds,” Westbrook said. “It was a real freak, and it broke all our lines loose in our boat, and the bow drifted over and snapped two pilings right off, this is right there in front of AJ’s.

“It absolutely didn’t last more than 10 seconds,” he continued. “It was a very short moment, but it was very scary.”

The National Weather Service said Monday that all indications pointed to a straight line wind event, as opposed to a tornado or waterspout. Meteorologist Jason Beaman with NWS Mobile said officials had reviewed photos and videos of the damage in Destin, and determined a brief spurt of winds in excess of around 60 miles per hour caused the damage.

“The damage was kind of sporadic from what we’ve seen,” Beaman said. “There wasn’t necessarily a path to follow. Plus, on the video we saw, the damage was basically in one direction, which is indicative of straight line winds.”

City of Destin spokesman Doug Rainer said the city’s public works department had not gotten any reports of damage to city-owned property as of mid-day Monday.

Sunday’s straight line wind event comes nearly a year to the day after another straight line wind event caused widespread damage in Destin, Okaloosa Island and Niceville. On Feb. 7, 2017, a storm blew through the area, bringing with it straight line winds topping out at 90 miles per hour.