Tropical Storm Claudette preparation in Pensacola: What you need to know Friday

Pensacola News Journal

Editor's note: Here's the latest Friday on the system in the Gulf of Mexico.

Escambia and Santa Rosa counties are under a tropical storm warning with tropical storm conditions expected within 12 to 24 hours.

The Pensacola area can expect heavy rainfall — as much as 12  inches — between Friday and Saturday as a result of a tropical system that is rapidly approaching the Gulf Coast on Friday.

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If it reaches storm status, it will be named Tropical Storm Claudette. 

Here's what you need to know as of Friday:

Where is the system and when could it develop into a tropical depression?

Potential Tropical Cyclone 3 is maintaining its strength as the first rain bands and gusty winds arrive on the northern Gulf Coast. It is expected to become a tropical or subtropical storm later today before making landfall tonight or early Saturday.

Potential Tropical Cyclone 3 has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, according to an advisory issued at 10 a.m. CT from the National Hurricane Center.

On the forecast track, the system will make landfall along the north-central Gulf Coast tonight or early Saturday. 

Tropics as of 2 p.m. Thursday, Jun. 17, 2021

An Air Force Reserve Unit reconnaissance aircraft is currently investigating the system and has not yet found a well-defined center.

Heavy rains should begin to affect portions of the northern Gulf Coast on Friday.

  • Formation chance through 48 hours: High, 90%.
  • Formation chance through 5 days: High, 90%.

Impacts to Escambia and Santa Rosa counties

An average of 7 to 9 inches of rain is expected to fall over the western half of the Florida Panhandle between Friday night and Sunday, but some areas could receive as much as 12 inches of rain. 

On Saturday, wind speeds could reach 45 mph along the coast. Interior portions of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties should expect to experience sustained 25 mph winds with gusts of up to 35 mph.

Weather models suggest that Pensacola will begin to experience strong wind conditions about 10 a.m. Saturday but could potentially start to see wind speeds rise as early as 3 a.m.

In addition to the tropical storm warning, Escambia and Santa Rosa counties have been placed under a flash flood watch, high surf warning and a coastal flood advisory that are expected to extend through the weekend and into Monday morning.

“It’s going to be windy and rainy. The beaches are going to be a mess, and there is also going to be a potential for tornadoes with this one,” said John Purty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, on Friday.

10 inches of rain possible:Up to 10 inches of rain possible in Pensacola as tropical depression or storm likely forms

Local impact:Tropical depression forecast to develop in Gulf of Mexico. Here's expected impact on Gulf Coast.

What about the beaches?

Pensacola Beach is flying red flags today and no swimming or wading is allowed in the Gulf. 

Navarre Beach is flying double-red flags and the water is closed to the public due to high surf and the presence of dangerous rip currents.

Gulf Islands National Seashore will close starting today due to the tropical storm approaching the Northwest Florida area.

Closed areas include the Fort Pickens Area, Santa Rosa Area, Perdido Key Area and Okaloosa Area in Florida, and the Davis Bayou Area and barrier islands in Mississippi.

J. Earle Bowden Way, Highway 399 will remain open. Drivers are warned to be cautious of water and sand on the roadway.

A mandatory evacuation of the Fort Pickens Campground and Davis Bayou Campground began Thursday with all campers and staff expected to leave by 1 p.m. All campground reservations will be postponed or canceled through Sunday.

Trolley canceled

The Santa Rosa Island Authority has canceled the Pensacola Beach Island Trolley service through Saturday. The SRIA is weighing a decision on whether to cancel Sunday’s trolley service as well, and will update accordingly as additional information and forecasts become available.

Sandbags available in Escambia County 

Sand is available at the following locations on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents must bring their own sandbags and shovels to one of the following locations. 

  • Baars Field Athletic Park, 13001 Sorrento Road, Pensacola 
  • Brent Athletic Park, 4711 N. W St., Pensacola 
  • Don Sutton Park, 2320 Crabtree Church Road, Molino 
  • Equestrian Center, 7750 Mobile Highway, Pensacola 
  • Escambia County Road Department, 601 Highway 297-A, Pensacola  
  • Ferry Pass Middle School, 8355 Yancey Lane, Pensacola. Sand will be on the northwest corner of school property on Parazine Street 
  • John R. Jones Jr. Athletic Park, 555 E. Nine Mile Road, Pensacola 
  • Travis M. Nelson Park, 4541 County Road 4, Pensacola 

Sandbags available in Santa Rosa County

  • The corner of Leisure Street and Citrus Drive in Navarre
  • Tiger Point Park in Gulf Breeze
  • Pace Fire-Rescue in Pace
  • The corner of Pine Forest Road and Carroll Road in Milton
  • East Milton Park, 8605 Bobby Brown Road
  • Chumuckla Park, 2355 Highway 182, near the ball field

What you can do now to prepare

  • Review or make your family plan for what to do during a storm.
  • Know your zone. Look up your address online here. You can search by address or parcel number and then look for the "Emergency Management Report." 
  • Restock your disaster kit supplies or get a kit. Your disaster kit should have at least seven days of nonperishable food and three gallons of water for each person and pet in your home, as well as medications. Consider having at least two emergency supply kits, one full kit at home and smaller portable kits in your workplace, vehicle or other places you spend time.
  • Prep your yard. Check for, fix or remove loose items on your home and sheds. Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and down spouts. Trim trees and shrubs around your home.  
  • Stay informed by monitoring the local media and legitimate online and social media sources like Escambia County Emergency Management, National Weather Service in Mobile and National Hurricane Center