[VIDEO] South Thomas Drive CRA Complete

Short of a bit of landscaping and some finish work, the South Thomas Drive CRA is complete!  They’ve been working on this project since September of 2009 and regardless of delays, setbacks and disappointed expectations, the improvements look awesome.  So, before you start flaming off in the comments about how you know how to run a project of this magnitude so much better and how if YOU were running it it would have been all perfect, just go take a drive through there and enjoy it.  It’s really fantastic.

I won’t spend a whole lot of time walking you through what they did, as we’ve discussed that in great length here, here and here – so let’s get right to the video!

Florida Beach Flag Warning System

Panama City Beach is known as having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  And if you’ve done some traveling, you know this to be true.  Emerald green waters, crystal white sand and normally calm waters draw people here from all over the country.

However, when dealing with mother nature, water conditions can change quickly and create rough conditions fast.  Undertow, rip currents and large waves all pose a threat to our safety and unfortunately many lives have been lost to compromising surf conditions.

The Uniform Flag Warning System was standardized in 2005 by the Florida Legislature to enact a standard system that was consistent in all of Florida’s beaches.  Knowing that tourists often go to a variety of beaches in Florida throughout the year, a system that was the same everywhere was necessary to avoid confusion.

The flags and their meanings.

Double Red Flag: Water Closed to Public

A double red flag indicates water and surf conditions that are unsafe for the public.  When double red flags fly, water entry access is closed and is enforces by local law enforcement.

These conditions often include rip currents, strong undertow and heavy and choppy surf that is life threatening.  However, the presence of a double red flag doesn’t specifically indicate any or all of the above conditions, it just stipulates that the waters are closed.

Single Red Flag: High Hazard

When a single red flag is flying, it is advised that the public does not enter the water but does so at their own risk.  Single red flag conditions include high surf and/or strong currents

Yellow Flag: Medium Hazard

Yellow flags flying indicates moderate surf and/or currents and that the water should be entered with caution.  Usually during yellow flag conditions it is considered safe to enter the waters, but like always, you’re encouraged to be safe.

Green Flag: Low Hazard

Green flags indicate calm conditions.  The water is usually flat during green flag conditions.  I liken green flag conditions to swimming in one great big, salty swimming pool.

Purple Flag: Dangerous Marine Life

Dangerous marine life can range from jelly fish to sharks and all varieties in between.  I’ve only seen that flag flown a couple times here but have read it’s flown regularly in south Florida.

Warnings everywhere.

The State of Florida and local tourism officials circulate beach flag warning signs and have them posted at public beach access points.  The sign graphic is publicly available for hospitality partners to use to warn their guests and the sign magnets can be found all over the place.

With Panama City Beach Luxury Properties, we had our own magnets designed and placed in our condos.

Leave No Trace, What it Means to You (Tent Ordinance)

A couple weeks ago the Panama City Beach City Council passed an ordinance dubbed Leave No Trace that prohibits beach goers from leaving personal property on the beach overnight.  Also known as the Tent Ordinance, the initial goal was to eliminate the left over tent skeletons that sometimes seem to pollute our shimmering white sands.

What the ordinance includes.

Specifically, the ordinance states that personal property left on the beach between the hours of 9 pm and 5 am will be considered abandoned and will be disposed of.  Some of these items may include tents, chairs, coolers, towels, etc.

On public beaches or with the upland landowner’s permission, guests may store personal property overnight at the Toe of the Dune at their own risk.

The Toe of the Dune is the area of the beach immediately seaward of the dune and beach vegetation. To be specific, it is the area of the beach that is furthest from the water that is not in a sand dune or beach access point.

Items left at the Toe of the Dune will not be removed by the contractor.  However, the owners of the personal property storing items at the Toe of the Dune, do so at their own risk. The County, City, TDC and its beach maintenance contractor, do not assume any liability for any items left on the beach after 9:00 pm.

When does the ordinance take effect?

The ordinance is in effect now.  However, it’s not being enforced until Sunday, July 8, 2012. Local officials and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau are getting the program prepared and beginning an awareness campaign so no one’s caught off guard.

How will the program work?

Each evening the beach maintenance contractor will travel the length of the beach and remove any items from the beach that are in violation of this ordinance.

The contractor may issue courtesy warnings for items left on the beach as they begin the implementation. When a courtesy warning is issued the material will be tagged informing the owner of the ordinance and the intent to remove the item the following evening if it is not removed.

However, officials are saying these warnings are a courtesy and that the contractor may remove any item from the beach whether or not a prior warning has been issued.

The release states that there may be times and circumstances that the contractor is unable to remove items from the entire length of the beach in a single evening.  This inability to fully enforce the ordinance will not change or prevent the contractor from removing the items the next evening without notice.

BREAKING: Tropical Storm Debby and Panama City Beach [Updated]

If you’ve been to the beach in the last 24 hours, you’ve seen the increase in wave activity and noticed the double red flags.  Tropical Storm Debby is churning in the Gulf right now and is giving forecasters little hint as to where she’s going.

I’m going to use this post to keep us up to date on important information as to where she’s going, what she’s doing and what we need to do about it.

First off, I keep an eye on a couple places to make sure I know what’s going on:

Current Status

UPDATED 6-26-12 1940 cst

Whew!  That was a close one.  Initial reports had Tropical Storm Debby Downer lingering until Friday of this week.  But with a little westerly wind the storm moved to the east and off of us yesterday afternoon allowing the sun to peek out for a bit before sunset.

Today was beautiful with nary a sign of the previous day’s storm that threatened vacations all up and down the beach.  I’ve found a few isolated signs of wind damage and a few lingering puddles, but overall our area fared well, and we can get back to enjoying the beach.

The water is still brownish looking and I personally am predicting it to return to the normal emerald green by week’s end just in time for the July 4th week!

UPDATED 6-25-12 1515 cst

Things have changed quite a bit since yesterday evening.  The projection has changed, the storm’s begun to move and it’s picked up speed!  Currently it’s moving northeast at 5 mph and projections are putting it towards the coast of Cedar Key by Wednesday morning.  Hopefully the rain will be gone from here by then.  Currently the wind speed is around 45 mph and it’s traveling at 5 mph.

One of the things that has been extremely challenging here is the direction in which the rain is coming – from the northeast.  The rain has been blowing in sideways hitting the back side of condominium buildings and causing front doors to leak all up and down the beach.

If you’ve been out to the beach, you’ll notice things have calmed down a lot.  While double red flags are still flying (and waters are NOT SAFE to enter), the surf looks much more calm.

Around town, there are visible signs of wind damage in some areas, although light, and there still remains a Tropical Storm Warning from Destin to Englewood Florida.  Areas west of there have been cleared.

AGAIN – keep an eye on the links above as they’ll have up to the minute updates on what this thing is doing.

  • Location: The eye is 125 miles from Panama City Beach, lat/long – 28.4, -85.8
  • Wind Speed: 45 mph
  • Direction: Heading northeast at 5 mph
  • Bay County Warnings: [Tropical Storm Warning] from Destin to Englewood Florida. 
Current Satellite Image


What we should do to prepare.

Being a vacation rental property manager in Panama City Beach, I have a variety of concerns with a Tropical System comes our way.

Are we safe?

Right now, we are.  But this could change over the next couple hours/days.  The best thing we can do is keep an eye on the storm.  At this point, it’s not likely we’ll be hit catastrophically by a devastating storm.  The most we’ll likely see in Panama City Beach is 50 mph wind (max), rain and storm surge.

Do I need to make preparations at my 35 individual condos to protect them?

My experience has shown me that all condos that are interior are rarely impacted by high winds.  The buildings cut through the wind and the closer to the building you are, the less the wind on the balcony.  I was recently at a friend’s condo (Mr. Castle!) in Tropic Winds, and his end location gave him a very neat and large balcony that has a whole corner that’s open with guard rails.  He told me he loses tables, chairs and other items with regularity.

So, if you’re on an end unit or have a wrap around balcony, pull your stuff in if the wind kicks up.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry too much.  BUT – don’t take my word for it, use it as advice, but keep an eye on your units!

What concerns do I have about my guests and how can I help?

We’ll be calling all our guests and letting them know what we know, and telling them where they can go to look for more information.  Our rental policy states that if we have a mandatory evacuation, then we’ll refund their rental monies for the nights they didn’t get to stay with us.

It’s common for people to get upset or concerned when tropical systems come through, but generally we are all pretty safe and there is usually nothing to worry about.

What should we do should conditions get worse?

We need to keep an eye on the system, and if it gets worse, we’ll need to take the appropriate action based on the severity of the situation.  The best thing we can do is keep an eye on our local warnings issues to us by NOAA (above in the ‘warnings’ section).

More about the hurricane rating system

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane’s present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average.

  • Tropical Depression: 0 – 38 mph wind speeds
  • Tropical Storm: 38 – 73 mph wind speeds
  • Category 1 Hurricane: 74 – 95 mph wind speeds
  • Category 2 Hurricane: 96 – 110 mph wind speeds
  • Category 3 Hurricane: 111 – 130 mph wind speeds
  • Category 4 Hurricane: 131 – 155 mph wind speeds
  • Category 5 Hurricane: 156 mph and greater wind speeds

Photo Credit

Emergency Hot Deal in Wild Heron

We interrupt our regualar Beach Show to bring you an emergency HOT DEAL! But stay tuned…The Beach Show will return next week with another exciting episode filled with awesome opportunities!

Wild Heron $279,900
3 Bedrooms, 2.5 baths. Gourmet kitchen with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Gorgeous master bath. 2 car garage. All the great amenities of Wild Heron. Won’t last long.
Call Beachy Beach Real Estate
(850) 233-4351

My 3 Favorite Summer Food Traditions

Every summer brings a break from school, warm days at the beach and good food. Really all of these things can be enjoyed year round, but they seem to be more savory during the hot months of summer.

Fresh Seafood

One of the clear luxuries of life at the beach is fresh gulf seafood. There is something extremely satisfying about knowing your meal was just caught that day.

There are tons of great seafood markets all over Panama City Beach but the one I seem to frequent the most (because it’s close to home) is Buddy’s Seafood Market on Highway 79. I think they are open until 6 every day and reckon they start pretty early.

Map link

I’ve enjoyed a variety of fresh fish but my favorites this summer are grouper and flounder.

My wife loves the light flavor and flakey texture of the flounder and large, thick grouper steaks just make my mouth water writing about them.

How I prepare the fish

If you’ve never prepared fresh seafood yourself, you’re really missing out. Not only is it cheaper, the chances of you getting an overcooked piece of fish are much less. 🙂

This is what I do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450.
  2. Lay out as many pieces of foil as you have fish on a baking sheet. Make the foil sections large enough to wrap up the edges a little.  This will keep the juices in.
  3. Put a few splashes of olive oil on the foil to help prevent sticking.
  4. Lay the individual pieces of fish on their piece of foil.
  5. Put a few plops of butter on the fish.
  6. Squirt a few dashes of lemon juice on each fillet.
  7. Sprinkle some Lawry’s salt on top.
  8. Bake flounder for about 5 minutes and check for flakiness.
  9. Grouper will probably need longer but it depends on the thickness.
  10. I generally check every five minutes or so, then every minute once I think it’s close.
Thomas’ Donuts

I wouldn’t say necessarily that I’m a donut connoisseur, but my tongue test results say these are the best donuts I’ve ever had. They are a delicacy that you have to have while you’re at the beach.

They are located right on Front Beach Road just past the Laguna Beach area.

Map link

Pro-tip: get there early and pick up a few red velvet before they sell out. If you want to make them a little more delicious, microwave one for about 7 seconds.

Fish Tacos

True, fish tacos could fall under the ‘fresh seafood’ category, but for me, it’s a totally separate tradition. There are a variety of places that serve fish tacos with a variety of types of fish. And while Finns was my favorite at one point, my new favorite is at Hook’d.

They have two options: catfish or snapper – in which catfish isn’t really an option for me. The snapper is well worth the extra $3. They serve them with this slaw that has a flavor that, when added to the tacos, makes the flavor of the tacos really pop. They are really amazing.

But, lately, I’ve actually been into their shrimp tacos. I love the texture of the shrimp and the same sauce that graces the fish tacos makes the shrimp tacos just as delicious. Reminder, make sure to put the slaw ON the taco – it really sets you up for a party in your mouth.

Hook’d is located at the foot of the Russell Fields Pier (across from Pier Park) in Panama City Beach.

Map link

What are your favorite summer traditions?

Hurricane Category Rating System

Every year hurricane season sneaks up on us and then leaves us in November with nary an umbrella blown over.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some exciting times here on the beach, but usually amid doom and gloom predictions, we usually leave the year fairly uneventful.  Of course, we had some tropical storm activity last year and 2003, 2004 and 2005 was rather active – but it’s been relatively slow the past couple years.  Will we have a slow year this year as well?  Some believe not since we had such a warm winter.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane’s present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average.

Category One Hurricane

Winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt or 119-153 km/hr). Storm surge generally 4-5 ft above normal. No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage. Hurricane Lili of 2002 made landfall on the Louisiana coast as a Category One hurricane. Hurricane Gaston of 2004 was a Category One hurricane that made landfall along the central South Carolina coast.

Category Two Hurricane

Winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 km/hr). Storm surge generally 6-8 feet above normal. Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings. Hurricane Frances of 2004 made landfall over the southern end of Hutchinson Island, Florida as a Category Two hurricane. Hurricane Isabel of 2003 made landfall near Drum Inlet on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane.

Category Three Hurricane

Winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt or 178-209 km/hr). Storm surge generally 9-12 ft above normal. Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required. Hurricanes Jeanne and Ivan of 2004 were Category Three hurricanes when they made landfall in Florida and in Alabama, respectively.

Category Four Hurricane

Winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt or 210-249 km/hr). Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal. More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km). Hurricane Charley of 2004 was a Category Four hurricane made landfall in Charlotte County, Florida with winds of 150 mph. Hurricane Dennis (pdf) of 2005 struck the island of Cuba as a Category Four hurricane.

Category Five Hurricane

Winds greater than 155 mph (135 kt or 249 km/hr). Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required. Only 3 Category Five Hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records began: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Camille (1969), and Hurricane Andrew in August, 1992. The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane struck the Florida Keys with a minimum pressure of 892 mb–the lowest pressure ever observed in the United States. Hurricane Camille struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast causing a 25-foot storm surge, which inundated Pass Christian. Hurricane Katrina (pdf), a category 5 storm over the Gulf of Mexico, was still responsible for at least 81 billion dollars of property damage when it struck the U.S. Gulf Coast as a category 3. It is by far the costliest hurricane to ever strike the United States. In addition, Hurricane Wilma (pdf) of 2005 was a Category Five hurricane at peak intensity and is the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclone on record with a minimum pressure of 882 mb.

What is June Grass?

Almost every single summer, the beach in Panama City Beach is accompanied by a combination of green slimy stuff and chunks of prickly patches with tiny air bubbles.  Collectively, this is commonly referred to as June Grass, even though the two separate materials are completely different. “June Grass” certainly isn’t a scientific term and I never could seem to come up with when the term usage began.  Some will say it is specific to the green algae, others the sargassum, and still others will use the term to refer to both. Although they both seem to come to shore around the same time, they are different.  And one of them actually makes quite a journey to make it here.


Sargassum is a patchy material that consists of a leafy bunch interspersed with tiny air sacs.  The air sacs resemble small grapes and keep it afloat.  The material serves as a mobile home, of sorts, for all sorts of marine life.  The actual name is of Portuguese decent. Sargassum actually comes from the Sargasso sea, which is found in the north Atlantic.  It grows in very large, thick bunches and is broken apart by current and waves.  The broken apart pieces then multiply and grow on their own as they travel wherever the current takes them.  Sargassum can be found all along the east and gulf coast, and is a member of the brown algae family.

Green Algae

The very small, slimy green stuff we find floating in our waters is much different then sargassum in consistency.  This material makes the water seem soupy and the matter can infiltrate the smallest crack or crevice on our person.  It’s been joked about, used for mock costumes, and often found heavily caked on the shoreline in some areas.  All I can find out about the stuff is that it grows somewhere offshore and is prevalent in warmer waters.  During periods of rain, it can clear up a bit.

The presence of either material tends to be a constant topic of complaint on the beach during the summer months.  I’ve heard of people claiming their whole vacation was ruined from it.  Contrary, I’ve also heard some say they’ve experienced it almost every year they’ve vacationed here and have come to expect it.

In the past, countless blamed it on the oil spill – of course, it was as natural that year as it has been in every other year.  Some have claimed it’s worse now than it’s ever been, yet many others can recall its prevalence in quantity fluctuates from year to year and has for as long as they can remember.

I for one, can remember in 2002 when my cousin, Eric Koertge, came to town and the stuff was super heavy and very unenjoyable.  It was in our short pockets, leg hair, what little chest hair I have and caked on my skin – gross!  But I can remember years when I hardly noticed it!

What are your thoughts on this green and sometimes slimy stuff?