Karen and the Oktoberfest

By David Angier

It appears that beer, not rain, will be flowing at Panama City’s 29th Annual Oktoberfest this weekend.

As of 6 a.m. Friday, Tropical Storm Karen, which was approaching the Panhandle with winds around 60 mph, was being shredded by upper-level wind shear and not expected to strengthen. The Weather Channel predicted that Karen would weaken before making landfall somewhere near Mobile, Ala.

The worst weather in Bay County was expected Sunday.

That’s good news for Oktoberfest, which starts today at 4 p.m. on Harrison Avenue downtown Panama City with more than 40 retail booths, 20 unique beers to sample, real Bavarian food, live music and entertainment. The festival runs from 4-10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

For complete information, go to http://www.pcdib.com/#!vstc1=page-2/vstc0=oktoberfest.

 

Torrential Downpour in Panama City Beach

The last two weeks have been amazing with sunny days, blue skies and mid-80 degree weather. But the forecast today includes torrential rain and heavy wind.

Waking up to very tropical-like conditions, the rain was coming down in heavy sheets, with drops flying almost horizontal. There are high wind advisories with gusts over 30 mph and high surf advisories with 6’+ waves and rip currents.

Driving into work today, my van was bucked side to side from the wind and I could hear the rain beating at my side windows even as I was traveling at over 45 mph. At points I had to slow down to a near crawl because visibility was do limited.

Today’s a very rainy day at the beach but tomorrow the sun will be back and should stay with us through this Columbus Day weekend. So go see a movie, go shopping or go play in the rain.

Hurricane Isaac – Send Us Your Pics

Hurricane Isaac, once pointed directly at us, loomed threatening projections for days.  The local EOC (emergency operations center) was activated and press briefings were held, and many schools in the panhandle were closed for 1 day (some 2).  But Isaac brought nothing except sunshine and a little wind.  As close as Santa Rosa Beach saw a very thin but heavy band of rain for a couple hours yesterday evening, but that’s it.  Yesterday was a sunny fun day off of school and work.  They have snow days in the north, we get hurricane days. 🙂

But, there was some good wind, storm surge and some huge waves in the gulf, and we want to see pictures.

You may remember, last year with TD Lee came through, we got some excellent footage of the new M.B. Miller Pier taking the beating like a champ.

We want to see what you got, so send us your pictures to my email, jason@pcbdaily.com.

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

Tropical Storm Isaac is strengthening and moving fast.  Projections have kept fairly consistent, although “spaghetti models” have continued to move its trajectory further west with each update. One of the refreshing things about this storm is that it seems to be moving quickly (17-20 mph), so when it hits, it’ll blow over quickly.

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 8-27-12 0907 cst

As this storm grows older, and moves further west, the threat level regarding wind diminishes for Panama City Beach.  However, a still serious concern is the amount of rain Tropical Storm Isaac will deliver to Northwest Florida.  Officials are estimating 12 to 14 inches of rain in an already saturated area over the next 4 days and are warning of “serious flooding.”

Tropical Storm Isaac has not yet been upgraded to a hurricane as the maximum sustained winds are still just 65 mph, however strengthening is expected to occur in the next 12 hours.  Projections are now saying it will be a category 1 (as opposed to a cat 2) when it makes landfall.

We’ve updated all the imagery on this page to reflect the most current status.

UPDATED 8-26-12 2122 cst

Tropical Storm Isaac projections continue to move it west with the “cone of uncertainty’s” eastern border shifting to Destin (previously Indian Pass).  Currently there is a hurricane warning for those between Morgan City, LA and Destin FL and a hurricane watch from east of Destin to Indian Pass.

Walton County has closed their schools Monday and Tuesday, however Bay County District Schools will be in session as normal with the exception of Deane Bozeman School, which will be closed.  Bozeman functions as a special needs shelter during inclement weather periods.

In a meeting held this evening at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center, it was released that Bay County residents should expect over a foot of rainfall between now and Thursday and that flooding will be a large part of the problems that come from Isaac.  Some are expecting winds in the 60-80 mph range with tropical storm force winds as early as 8 pm Monday evening.

As of this report, Isaac is still a Tropical Storm with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.  Right now south and central Florida is being pelted with heavy rain and moderate wind (20-40 mph).

UPDATED 8-26-12 1236 cst (pm)

Initial projections had Isaac coming right towards us.  In fact, Highway 79 was directly at the middle of the cone.  As we’ve been watching Tropical Storm Isaac the last 36 hours, the forecast has moved it west.  Right now the eye of the storm is almost directly due north of Havana, Cuba.  Isaac is currently a tropical storm, but it is expected to be upgraded to a Category 1 in the next 12 hours.  The maximum sustained winds currently are 65 mph.

If the storm continues on its projected path, we’ll see the most dangerous side of the storm (the east side) on Tuesday.  The further west it moves, the less dramatic of an impact we’ll see.

Tropical Storm ISAAC Public Advisory Page

Summary of watches and warnings in effect…

A hurricane warning is in effect for…
* East of Morgan City Louisiana to Destin Florida…Including Metropolitan New Orleans…Lake Pontchartrain…And Lake Maurepas

A hurricane watch is in effect for…
* intracoastal city to morgan city louisiana

A tropical storm warning is in effect for…
* the florida peninsula from ocean reef southward on the east coast and from tarpon springs southward on the west coast
* florida keys…Including the dry tortugas and florida bay
* east of destin florida to the suwannee river
* intracoastal city to morgan city louisiana

A tropical storm watch is in effect for…
* east of sabine pass to west of intracoastal city louisiana

Current Satellite Image

Photo credit.

Current Spaghetti Model

Photo credit.

Current Wind Speeds

Photo Credit

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.  However, this should all be taken very seriously and you should take proper precautions relative to your circumstances.

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 (again, opinion).

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).  If we’re issued evacuation orders, we need to follow the direction of local authorities.

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

Forecast model image credit. 

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

From NOAA

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

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

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?

Waves of Fog Overtake Splash Resort, Pictures Go Viral

It’s a scene that’s seemingly common, something that JR Hott has seen many times when he’s flying his Panhandle Helicopter.  Meteorologically, it’s a pretty normal event,  but the result in these photos was captured just right, at just the right time.  Just a little later or a bit earlier, and these photos would have never happened.

Last Sunday, Hott went for a flight with his lead captain and fired off some very interesting pictures. The pictures seemed to capture waves of fog flowing over the gulf front condos in Panama City Beach, specifically, Celadon and Splash Resort and several others on the western end of Panama City Beach.

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

Hott said, reflecting on his thoughts before he posted the original image to his Facebook page, “Eh, these look pretty cool, I thought, maybe I’ll post them to my page. . .  When we started seeing the Likes and Shares come through, we were dumbfounded. . .  We never expected this.”

The pictures.
What’s really happening in the pictures.

As explained to me by the Panhandle Helicopter guys, when the air temperature, dew point and water temperature are all about the same, a fog is created.  Add a slight breeze from off the gulf and that fog will envelope the structures on the beach.  If it’s just a little too windy, the fog won’t form.

Meteorologist Dan Satterfield describes the process on his blog:

“Cool air offshore was very nearly at the saturation point, with a temperature near 20ºC and a dew point of about 19.5 degrees C. The air at this temperature can only hold a certain amount of water vapor, and how much it can hold depends heavily on the temperature. Drop the temperature, and it can no long hold as much water vapor, so some of it will condense out and a cloud will form.

“In this case, the air was cooled by lifting it about 50 meters over the top of the condos,” Satterfield continues. “A parcel of unsaturated air will cool when lifted at a rate of 1 degree C per 100 meters. In this case, it probably cooled about 0.5 degrees C, but that was all it took! On the back side of the condos, the air slowly sinks back down and warms at the same rate. As it warms the air can hold more water vapor and the cloud evaporates and disappears!”

The pictures were taken on Sunday, February 5 at 12:40 pm, and the main shots are picturing Celadon and Splash Resort with a variety of other resorts in the shot as well, including Tidewater, Tropic Winds, and Emerald Isle.

The virility of a picture.

Sure, there are talented people that have nailed the creation of viral content over and over, but a large part of creating viral content just really can’t be predicted.  A number of anomalies have to occur and fall into place just right to create that viral spread.

In this case, the photo was capturing something that happens on a regular basis, but the shot was captured from a vantage point that is not so regular. We see fog all the time, but we see it from the ground.  Seeing it from the air is very unique and rare, especially since helicopters can’t take off in foggy conditions.  However, with this situation, the fog was not impacting their landing/take-off location and they were able to get in the air.

The fog seems to be taking over the condos in massive waves, and everything blends together to create a neat, viral package.

So, just how viral is this?

Hott has said he’s literally seen his picture on sites around the world.  Spain, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, England, and Russia just to name a few.  The pictures have shown up on sites like weather.com, cnn.com, tntmagazine.com, huffingtonpost.com and news.discovery.com.  There is a YouTube video from CNN that has over a half million views.

Looking at the Facebook Insights, the original image has over 15,000 people who have interacted with it by either sharing, liking or commenting on it.  Bringing the analytics a little further, according to Facebook, the image as “reached” over 33,000 people.

Their Facebook page, last Saturday had just over 1,050 Likes. As of this post, they had just over 2,500 with over 3,500 people “talking about” them.

What are you thoughts on these pictures?