Tropical Storm Mindy makes landfall

Meteorologist Charles Roop has a brief update on Tropical Storm Mindy as it moved quickly northeastward toward the Big Bend coast Wednesday evening.
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 5:08 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2021 at 7:15 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tropical Storm Mindy makes landfall on Florida Panhandle; heavy rain expected, scattered flooding possible.

A low off of the Florida Panhandle coast has become better organized since the holiday weekend, and gained enough strength to become a tropical storm Wednesday evening.

The depression was centered 90 miles west-southwest of Apalachicola, Fla. and was moving northeast at 21 mph according to the first advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds were at 40 mph with a minimum central pressure of 1008 millibars. The maximum sustained winds increased an hour later to 45 mph with a 4-millibar pressure drop.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect for from Mexico beach east to the Steinhatchee River. A tropical storm warning means said conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case, over the next 6 to 12 hours according to the advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The warning also included inland locations of Taylor and Lafayette counties.

The National Hurricane Center tweeted a notice after 4 p.m. Wednesday that advisories would be issued at 5 p.m. EDT on a tropical depression, but adjusted the intensity when the first advisory dropped just before 5 p.m. Despite the “upgrade,” the forecast will be the same for the Big Bend and South Georgia. The proximity to the coastline will keep it from intensifying much before landfall Wednesday night.

“[A] well-defined circulation become evident on [Eglin Air Force Base] Doppler-radar with inbound velocities occasionally nearing 40-45 kt to the southeast of the radar center,” the National Hurricane Center wrote in their 5 p.m. technical discussion. “These Doppler-radar winds have been increasing over the past couple of hours as the center moves closer to the radar and I am reasonably confident this circulation is now surface based.”

Federal forecasters also noted sustained winds at a buoy just southeast of the center of Mindy increased and hit 35 knots (tropical-storm-force) during the 4-p.m. hour; therefore, that prompted the change from a tropical depression to a storm. The winds continued to increase, according to data from that same buoy.

The low’s thunderstorms around the center sparked strong thunderstorms along the southwestern Big Bend coast Wednesday afternoon with one prompting a tornado warning in Franklin County just before 3 p.m. The warning has since expired with no reports of tornadoes as of this update. A C-Tower weather station south of St. George Island reported a thunderstorm wind gust of 48 mph at 3 p.m. according to the National Weather Service.

Heavy rain will be the largest hazard as 2 to 3 inches of rain is possible through Wednesday night with isolated higher totals. A flash flood watch was still in effect for Liberty, Franklin, Wakulla, coastal Jefferson, Taylor, and Lafayette counties through Thursday morning.

A marginal (level 1) risk of severe weather was in place for the majority of the viewing area through Thursday morning, according to the Storm Prediction Center. A very low threat of damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes will be the hazards of concern. Be sure to have multiple ways of receiving weather warnings through the night - just in case.

The tropical storm is forecast to move either along the Big Bend coast or inland through the Big Bend and South Georgia Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. The official forecast has it becoming a depression as it moves inland Thursday morning and emerges over the Atlantic Ocean near or north of Jacksonville later Thursday morning or early afternoon.

This is a developing weather story. Stay with the Pinpoint Weather Team for the latest on air and online on Tropical Storm Mindy.

This story was updated to add additional information as well as a video update as of 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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