The Northeast part of the county is in the middle of its big blizzard snow event for the year. But some of you may have forgotten the big Panama City Blizzard-- It was exactly 20 years ago to this day, December 22, 1989, when nearly 2 inches of snow caught the panhandle by surprise.
“This is the winter storm of the century coming tonight, and more is on the way,” said Jim Segina. “We have a temperature of 22 degrees with 21 mile per hour winds, making the wind chill factor zero.”
"TV 7’s Jim Segina is standing by live at the Emergency Operations Center Downtown of Mulberry Ave. Jim, what’s the story there?"
“Joe, last hour when we talked to you there was sleet falling. Now, it’s just giant snowflakes and a little bit of wind picking up here. There are a lot of problems around the county," said Segina. "Three of the bridges are now closed. Officers’ are running all over the place, bridges are freezing up and there are accident everywhere. It’s a mess. “
The video above captured Front Beach Road on that snowy December day. The snow began falling late in the afternoon, by the end of the night, nearly two inches blanketed the ground.
The major problems came when the rain turned to sleet and snow and the temperatures dropped to the low 20’s. The temperatures stayed in the low 20’s for two-and-a-half days.
Ice was a big problem along with the snow; Florida Department of Transportation, or FDOT, crews put tons of sand on the Hathaway Bridge to make it passable; snow fell everywhere in Northwest Florida and flurries were reported as far south as Sarasota.
Noted area historian E. W. Carswell of Chipley, said it was reminiscent of a storm on the late 1900’s. “The big weather event here was before my time in about 1989. I heard old timers talking about snow on the ground with sleet and it all had frozen over. And, it lasted for about three days,” said Carswell.
The snow and the ice may have been fun for the kids, but it presented all kinds of problems for adults. The snow hung around just over two days and started melting away slowly as the temperatures finally elevated.