National Weather Service warns of risk of freezing rain in Escambia
- Florida’s greatest ice potential is in the northern parts of Escambia County.
- The biggest impact of this small amount of ice would be buildup on bridges and overpasses.
- The weekend will bring lows of 30 degrees for Pensacola and into the 20s for northern parts of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Schools and offices in Escambia County began preparing for the potential for severe winter weather arriving in the area overnight through Friday morning.
The National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, issued a winter weather advisory for all of Escambia County in effect through noon Friday. The weather service is forecasting freezing temperatures and rain between about 3 a.m. and 9 a.m., with the possibility that the sleet could negatively affect road conditions in the area through Friday.
Out of an abundance of caution, all Escambia County schools, district offices and extracurricular activities, including indoor and outdoor athletics, were canceled Friday.
“We anticipate that normal District operations will resume on Monday, January 24,” Superintendent Tim Smith said in a statement. “Of course, we will continue to work closely with local emergency operations officials to determine what is safest for our families and staff.”
Escambia County also closed its offices Friday, including the tax collectors, real estate appraiser, election supervisor, animal welfare department and clerk’s offices, as well as all public libraries.
ECAT, University of West Florida Trolley and Pensacola Beach Trolley bus services are also suspended Friday.
City of Pensacola officials also announced they would close offices and facilities on Friday, except for essential services. The closures include administrative offices, City Hall and Community Resource Centers in the City of Pensacola.
City of Pensacola Sanitation Services has planned to operate on a delayed schedule, with an expected start time of 10 a.m.
Schools and offices in Santa Rosa County remain open as of Thursday afternoon.
On Thursday, the National Weather Service in Mobile warned of the possibility of a small accumulation of ice due to light freezing rain expected Friday morning.
All of Escambia County is under a winter weather advisory from midnight Friday to noon for a “light glaze” of ice accumulation.
Michael Mugrage, a Meteorological Service meteorologist, told the News Journal that the ice accumulation could be only a trace of up to 0.01 inch to 0.02 inch.
The amount of ice that accumulates and its location will largely depend on the intensity of the rain, as the rain will drop temperatures below zero.
Escambia County Public Safety Director Eric Gilmore warned that potentially freezing conditions could pose a safety hazard to morning commuters.
“If you must be on the roads, please exercise extreme caution,” he said in a county weather alert.
The weather service advisory says the forecast remains uncertain and any rain overnight and Friday morning could allow ice buildup on high surfaces.
“It’s entirely possible (freezing rain) could reach the Pensacola area,” Mugrage said. “Temperatures are just a bit warmer there, but if we get high enough precipitation rates, if they can fall hard enough, it can easily pass and give some ice buildup.”
In other news:Escambia launches EMS dashboard to track ambulance calls
And:Santa Rosa County loses school impact fee lawsuit
The biggest impact of this small amount of ice would be buildup on bridges and overpasses.
Escambia County has plans in place to put sand on bridges in the north end of the county and public safety officials will meet this afternoon to discuss plans to respond to potentially hazardous weather conditions, according to Escambia County Public Safety Spokesperson Davis Wood.
“If you are traveling, drive with extreme caution and be alert to slippery spots on bridges and overpasses. Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you,” the weather service said. “Allow more time to reach your destination.”
Mugrage said any ice that accumulates will melt by Friday afternoon and roads should be able to dry out enough that black ice won’t be a problem when temperatures drop back below freezing on Friday evening.
The weekend will bring lows of 30 degrees for Pensacola and into the 20s for northern parts of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Temperatures are expected to warm up next week, with low temperatures rising above freezing on Tuesday, before another wave of cold air returns to the region on Wednesday.
Jim Little can be reached at [email protected] and 850-208-9827.