2016. A year of changing skies and wind. The elements evolved to get our attention- sometimes violently, sometimes silently, and other times beautifully.
On November 22, we started the day with frost, and a bonus. Bonnie Harper in Mt. Vernon noticed something a little unusual with the frost- clumps of ice that looked like cotton balls. From tall weeds in a field, moisture had slowly oozed out of their woody stems and froze. Ice had grown outward like fingernails and formed intricate and delicate shapes known as ice flowers.
It was a slow-motion, silent process. After late September, virtually no rain fell in the area for 7 weeks. Mobile tied a record stretch of 42 days of no measureable rain. (Pensacola went 41 days with no measureable rain). The dry landscape transitioned from a nuisance to a threat with some wildfires getting out of control. Since mid-November, many rounds of rain have diminished the drought.
Heavy rain, before the drought.
From August 8th through the 12th, communities south of I-10, from Mobile County into Escambia county Florida, got 4 to 8 inches of rain. The rain was not extreme, by Gulf Coast standards, but it was a huge contrast to the drought that was to follow.
July 13th was a typical summer day except for some very photogenic waterspouts near Navarre Beach. They didn’t move ashore or cause damage but they were widely seen. A waterspout is a much weaker cousin of a tornado. Our year did start with real tornadoes.
The Century, Florida Tornado.
On February 15th, at 3:32 in the afternoon, a tornado touched down near McDavid, Florida. It would stay on the ground for 17 miles, a total of 23 minutes, reaching EF 3 strength in Century, Florida and then moving toward Flomaton, Alabama.
The roof went off, and it knocked me to the ground.
The highest wind was estimated at just over 150 mph. A number of homes were damaged or destroyed, with 3 people being injured.
The Pensacola, Florida Tornado.
One week after the tornado in McDavid and Century, another EF 3 also struck Escambia County, Florida. This one hit the Ferry Pass community of Pensacola, after dark, at 8:10 in the evening. Starting on Creighton Road, the tornado left major damage along 9th Avenue.
Cracking and popping sounds. You just didn’t know what was happening outside.
It struck the Eau Claire subdivision before hitting the Moorings Apartments, the GE Plant, and the Grand Baroque Townhomes.
I’ll go through a hurricane anytime over a tornado, any day.
Over 130 homes and apartments were destroyed, but only a few people were injured.
Alan Sealls, News 5