CRESTVIEW — On Tuesday and Wednesday, snow flurries could fall as far south as the coastline and even out over the Gulf of Mexico, said John Purdy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
With the unusual weather pattern, travel problems are expected, he said. Tree limbs and power lines could be downed, power outages are possible. Roads and bridges could be iced over. In the north, a mix of rain, freezing rain and ice pellets is expected all day Tuesday. By evening that could become sleet and snow. In the south toward the coast, rainfall is expected most of the day with potential snowfall after midnight into Wednesday morning.
The expected snowstorm this week has resulted in the following notices:
•Choctawhatchee Electrical Cooperative has additional linemen on standby due to experiencing some sleet and ice in their service area. The company's entire operations group is ready to be called into action, if necessary. The Energy Control Center will monitor conditions throughout the night and calling in crews if needed. On Wednesday morning, CHELCO had eight outages (mostly caused by ice and downed tree limbs) affecting approximately 100 members; however, overnight approximately 2,200 CHELCO members were without power at some point. “The weather made restoration really slow,”Vice President of Engineering Matthew Avery said. “Everything was wet, cold and icy; however, this morning things are going pretty well.”
•The following Gulf Power offices are closed Wednesday: Crestview, Pensacola, Milton, Niceville, and DeFuniak Springs. Panama City and Chipley offices open Wednesday at noon. All office hours are subject to change based on weather conditions.
As of 10 a.m., 6,500 Gulf Power customers had no power and crews continue to work safely to finish restoration from Pensacola to Panama City. The company started seeing power outages yesterday around 1 p.m. Since then, a total of 41,845 customers have lost power. As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, Gulf Power crews had restored power to 35,000 of those customers.
line crews increased their staffing into the night Tuesday, as well as on Wednesday morning. A Gulf Power spokesman said freezing rain and sleet can build up on tree limbs, which then break and fall onto power lines. If you come across a downed power line, assume that it is live and call 911, as well as Gulf Power, at 1-800-487-6937.
If there is an outage, customers can help Gulf Power restore power by turning off their heating systems until power is restored. Once power is back on, customers should wait a few minutes before turning their heating system on. The company requests that customers wait 10 to 15 minutes after their power is restored before turning their heat back on, as it helps them manage the service load so they can bring all customers back on line as quickly as possible.
Customers with questions may call Gulf Power customer service representatives at 1-800-225-5797.
Customers can view an online outage map by computer, smartphone or tablet on MyGulfPower.com to report or check on an outage. They also can check their power usage on MyGulfPower.com by logging into their account. Customers can create an account online or call the Customer Care Center and a representative will help.
GROCERY STORES, TUESDAY EVENING STATUS
•Publix is closing earlier than its usual 10 p.m. It was open as of 5:30 p.m. and closure will depend on news from corporate.
•Thrifty Foods closes at its usual time of 8:30 p.m.
•Wal-Mart isn't closing, as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
•Winn-Dixie is closing at its usual 10 p.m. time.
GOVERNMENT, COMMUNITY, HEALTH
•Crestview City Hall will remain closed Wednesday, Jan. 29.
•Crestview Public Library is closed Wednesday as well.
•Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners’ government offices close at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 and are scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m.on Thursday, Jan. 30.
•The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County closes at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 and will reopen Thursday, Jan. 30. Clients who need to reschedule or cancel appointments should call (850) 833-9240.
•Escambia and Santa Rosa County and Circuit Courts will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as Santa Rosa and Escambia Department of Children and Families offices. The DCF offices are expected to reopen Jan. 30.
•Northwest Florida Water Management District Crestview and Milton offices are closed until Thursday morning.
•Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Offices in Crestview and Fort Walton Beach closed at 2 p.m. Jan. 28 and will re-open at 8 a.m. Jan. 30. For more information, email Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux.
•Eglin Air Force Base's Installation Commander has ordered that non-mission critical military and civilian personnel be released at 2 p.m. today. As of 11:30 a.m. today, Eglin will reopen for normal business at noon Jan. 29. All military and civilian personnel should report for duty at noon Wednesday or at the start of their normally scheduled duty period thereafter.
•Hurlburt Field: All civilian employees and military members, except those in mission critical positions required to
provide essential services, are excused from duty Jan. 29. Hurlburt Field will not be open to normal business until 12 p.m., Jan 30. All civilian employees and military members are expected to report for their normally scheduled duty shift after 12 p.m., Jan 30.
Personnel are encouraged to monitor the weather and stay in touch with their leadership. Updates will be posted at the Hurlburt Field Facebook page.
•Okaloosa County schools will be closed Jan. 28 and 29.
•Northwest Florida State College canceled all day and evening classes and closed administrative offices at all locations Jan. 28. All classes will resume and all locations and offices will resume usual hours Jan. 30.
•The Be Scam Smart Operation S.A.F.E. Workshops for senior citizens are canceled and will be rescheduled. One was 10-11:30 a.m. Jan. 28 in Milton; the other was from 10-11:30 a.m. Jan. 29 at Warriors Hall in Crestview.
•The Thursday groundbreaking for the Alerio multi-family vacation condominiums being built on U.S. Highway 98 in Miramar Beach has been postponed until the end of February.
•The Natural Resource Damage Assessment public meeting scheduled Jan. 28 in Pensacola is canceled and will be rescheduled. The Deepwater Horizon NRDA Trustees will still host the Jan. 28 public meeting at Hilton Garden Inn, 1101 US Highway 231, Panama City, to solicit public comment on the Draft Programmatic and Phase III Early Restoration Plan and Draft Early Restoration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. It begins with an open house at 6 p.m. CST, with business at 6:30.
The public comment period on the Draft Phase III ERP/PEIS has been extended from Feb. 4 through Feb. 19. Visit www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov to download an electronic copy of the plan and submit comments online. For more on the State of Florida’s oil spill recovery efforts visit www.deepwaterhorizonflorida.com.
GROUPS AND ORGANIZATIONS
•The Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
•Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa County Boys & Girls Clubs are closed Jan. 28 and 29, and will re-open in accordance with local school districts.
•Common Ground Community Garden has moved its bi-monthly meeting to noon, Feb. 4 at the Convergence Coffeehouse in Crestview. You can visit their Facebook page for group information.
Any more information received by the News Bulletin will be listed here. If you have information on other closures, email it, with times and dates involved.