Like many Pensacola Beach business owners, Laura Pinzone spent Monday trying not think about the weather forecast for this weekend’s annual Pensacola Beach Blue Angels Air Show.
Pinzone, who owns Papa’s Pizza on the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk, said the annual show is a critical week for many beach hotels and restaurants. Talk about a tropical depression that is expected to form over the northern Gulf of Mexico later this week was not welcome.
“It is such a big week for all of the businesses out here on the beach,” Pinzone said.
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David Eversole, a meteorologist with the National Weather in Mobile, Alabama, said the depression could become a tropical storm on Thursday or Friday and bring rain to the Pensacola Beach area through the weekend.
“We are expecting numerous showers and thunderstorms every day along with a high risk of rip currents,” he said.
SRIA is monitoring weather
The show is scheduled to kick off at 8 a.m. Wednesday when the Blue Angels fly over the beach for the first time. Performances are scheduled to continue daily through Saturday.
The Santa Rosa Island Authority, which oversees the show, said in a news release late Monday that it was working with Escambia County Emergency Management to monitor how weather could impact the air show.
“Briefings and decisions will be made each morning based on the most current weather predictions,” the release stated.
The Blue Angels also posted Monday on Facebook to say that the team was monitoring the forecast.
“We will not make a decision to cancel or postpone a practice or performance until the last possible second (more than once this decision has been made after the pilots entered their aircraft and prepared to taxi),” the post read.
The team also noted Sunday is a weather make-up day, and if the team does cancel or postpone, it would announce the news on its social media accounts.
Regardless of where the tropical system makes landfall, it will likely impact Pensacola Beach in some way, Eversole said.
“We are expecting to issue small craft advisories, there will be winds,” he said.
Early into hurricane season
Susan Newkirk, owner of Key Sailing on Pensacola Beach, was disappointed in the weekend forecast.
“It’s sad for everybody out here,” said Newkirk, who has owned her beach business for 37 years. “We never get a storm this early in the season.”
But Evesole said tropical storms can happen in July.
“This is hurricane season, even though it’s early in the season,” he said.
What is unusual is that the storm is forming from a low-pressure system over central Georgia and moving south toward the Gulf of Mexico, he said.
“Usually something that is tropical in origin forms in the southern Gulf and heads northward,” he said. “It is quite unusual for this to be forming over land and heading southward.”
Keeping an eye on the forecast
Employees of Lazy Days beach chair rentals kept close watch on the changing forecast Monday. Brian Rodriguez was surrounded by rental lounge chairs on Casino Beach. He used a clipboard to track which chairs he had rented out for the day.
“None of the tourists are asking about the weather yet. They are on vacation so if the weather is good today, they are happy,” he said, as he took money and helped situate people on the sunny beach.
“But we are on guard, we know we will have to evacuate everything and move all the chairs if we get the call later in the week,” he said.
At The Stand on Casino Beach, Jeff Walton offers everything from French fries to flip flops. It’s his first year in business in the prime location near the beach pavilion. He spent Monday gearing up for what he had expected to be the busiest weekend of the year.
“I cannot do anything about the weather,” he said.
“I am just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and get ready and see what happens,” Walton said as he worked behind the window of the busy concession stand.
Christi Clendenon and Gwynne Golden were among the hundreds of people who relaxed nearby. The two Pensacola women planned to come back to the beach to watch the Blue Angels fly on Friday and Saturday.
Golden, a lifelong Pensacola resident, said she loves the beach air show.
“I am going to stay optimistic that they will fly. The weather will have to be pretty bad for them to call it off,” she said.