Winter Storm Brings Florida Panhandle State’s First Snow in Four Years

by Taylor Cunningham

Some Panhandle Floridians woke up to a rare winter storm on Monday morning. It was the first time the region had seen snow in over three years.

In the early morning, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office posted a video of the snowfall on Twitter saying, “well how’s this for a temperature change? From 75 degrees at 3 in the afternoon to snow at 3 am captured during patrol in the Lowe’s parking lot on Beal by B-Shift Central! Bundle up out there!”

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office posted video a deputy captured showing falling snowflakes bathed in the light of a lamppost in a store’s parking lot. Only 12 hours earlier, the temperature had been 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.8 degrees Celsius), the post said.

The last time the area had any significant snowfall was back in 2018. That year, a snowstorm pelted Tallahassee for the first time in three decades. Because of the weather, the city closed schools, offices, and parts of Interstate 10.

This year’s winter storm wasn’t as devastating as the 2018 blast, however. Meteorologist Don Shepherd from the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, said the area only saw a few flurries. And according to Michele Nicholson, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, the snow didn’t stick.

But the Sunshine State will still have a few minor inconveniences. Because of the chilly weather, popular Panhandle beaches such as Fort Walt Beach and Destin won’t be seeing many beachgoers.

Winter Storms and Staffing Shortages Grounded Thousands of Flights Sunday and Monday

Winter storm Frida and staffing shortages have been causing frustrating delays for travelers across the globe. On Sunday, airlines canceled 4,000 flights worldwide, with 2,500 in the United States. And on Monday, they canceled another 2,882 flights within, into, or out of the U.S. and delayed another 3,800.

A winter storm expected to dump up to 10 inches of snow on the East Coast grounded flights leaving Washington D.C. and Baltimore when the Federal Aviation Administration shut down Reagan National Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The disruptions also hit New York and Colorado as LaGuardia canceled 119 trips and Denver International Airport called off 96 flights.

While winter storms are responsible for many of the cancellations and delays, COVID-19 has also created major staff shortages.

According to The Hill, United Airlines issued a statement on Saturday saying that the “nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation.”

But while the company is dealing with the weather and staffing issues, it is “working hard to rebook as many people as possible.”