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PCB city council will not update a tornado warning system at this time

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 10:41 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - There will not be an updated tornado warning system for Panama City Beach, at least for the time being, even though some residents believe it’s needed. An EF-0 tornado and damaging winds hit the Beach nearly two months ago. While no lives were lost, the winds did leave behind a fair amount of destruction.

During Thursday’s Beach city council meeting, Beach Fire and Rescue presented options for possible tornado warning systems. Panama City Beach fire chief Ray Morgan said a simpler system would start around $85,000 and a full-coverage system would potentially approach $150,000. One person in favor of a warning system is Funland Arcade manager Ginny McDavid. The tornado didn’t hit her business, but the straight-line winds did. McDavid said she had no warning.

“It’s bound to happen again. You know, the water spouts are out there and they come ashore and they do turn into tornados. So we do need warning systems,” said McDavid.

Councilman Paul Casto said it was a productive discussion, especially given the damage also seen at Frank Brown Park. But, he said the Beach is not an area that sees a lot of damaging tornadoes, so to him, these tornado warning systems are not a priority for the city.

“I feel like we have other priorities like with water safety. We’ve had several drownings each year and I think that would be an area that we should put the funding to,” said Casto.

Casto said no decision was made Thursday night and council members would have to put it back on the agenda for the discussion to be brought up again during a future council meeting. He adds other council members were interested, so he expects them to re-visit this discussion in the future.

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