Read about the latest local updates related to Hurricane Michael.

 

4:30 UPDATE

The U.S. 331 bridge remains closed while crews clean off debris left by Hurricane Michael.

The curfew has been lifted though.

 

3:30 p.m. UPDATE

Walton County Sheriff Michael Ashley said he plans to re-open the 331 Bridge within a few hours and that most of the damage was done in the Rosemary Beach area of Walton County

"The more east you go the worse it is," he said. He plans to lift a curfew as soon as he possibly can.

 

3 p.m. UPDATE

There are no plans to close bridges in Okaloosa County, where winds have been averaging 29-30 miles per hour, according to county spokesman Christopher Saul. Those wind speeds are no where close to the anticipated gusts of up to 70 mph.

"We have been extremely lucky," Saul said.

Less fortunate are the nearly 140,000 folks without power Wednesday afternoon.

As of 2:50 p.m., almost 120,000 Gulf Power customers and 19,000 CHELCO members were without power.

Gulf Power crews and their partner crews will begin repairing damaged power lines and other infrastructure as soon as storm winds drop below 30 mph, Gulf Power spokesman Jeff Rogers said.

CHELCO crews anticipate beginning assessments of CHELCO’s damaged infrastructure on Thursday morning, company spokesman Rumi Nielson-Green said.

 

12:40 p.m. UPDATE

More than 92,000 Gulf Power customers, as well as 1,334 CHELCO members, were without electricity in local areas affected by Hurricane Michael. 

Okaloosa bridges remain open, as does the bridge to Navarre Beach.

John Starrett from Navarre Beach sent photos of waves cresting near the bottom of the Navarre Fishing Pier as they approached the beach.

"Very stiff north winds with the water line creating up to the dune line," he told the Daily News. "A lot of folks out checking out the swell and conditions, however if the winds increase 10 more mph the (Santa Rosa County) office will be making preparations to close the bridge to Navarre Beach."

 

12:20 p.m. UPDATE

Okaloosa Island residents are being asked to conserve water to the greatest extent possible.

Out of an abundance of caution for the protection of the public and Okaloosa County’s Water and Sewer system, staff have isolated the valve which connected the water system of Okaloosa Island and the rest of the county’s water and sewer infrastructure.

This means residents who stayed on the island ahead of Hurricane Michael will now rely on the tanks located on the island. These tanks are pressurized and county officials believe the tanks will provide between 24 and 36 hours of clean drinking water.

After this time, the county will post a boil water notice for the island’s water consumers.

 

11:30 a.m. UPDATE

The decision to impose a curfew in Walton County was a joint decision between Walton County Commission Chairman Bill Chapman and Walton County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mike Adkinson.

Chapman said there are people walking the beaches and driving on County Road 30A and U.S. highway 98, and they are getting in the way of first responders.

"Better hunker down, is all I can tell them," Chapman said when asked about advice he would give to residents that didn't heed evacuation warnings. "Cause right now there's no way you can get to any of our shelters."

The U.S. 331 Clyde D. Wells Bridge was shut down at around 10:20.

"It will remain closed until the state DOT comes in here and does the required inspection, prior to opening it up, after the winds subside and they have an opportunity to get a crew here to do that inspection," Chapman said. "Even though the winds may die, we cannot open it back up until DOT has inspected it to make sure there's no damage at the foot of the bridge."

"We ask everybody to adhere to this as we move forward in this storm."

 

11:45 a.m.

As of 11:30 a.m., more than 41,000 Gulf Power customers, as well as 183 CHELCO members, were without power.

About 37,000 of those Gulf Power customers were in the Panama City area.

More than 2,300 Gulf Power customers in the Sandestin and Destin area and more than 530 in Fort Walton Beach area have also lost power.

 

11:30 a.m.

Officials in Walton County have imposed a curfew for all areas south of the U.S. 331 Clyde B. Wells Bridge until further notice. The curfew begins at noon. 

All Walton County residents and visitors are to remain on their own private property or indoors. 

"The threat and impact of hurricane force winds, heavy rainfall, downed trees and power lines and other associated storm damage pose real risks to the public," the ordinance reads, in part. "This ordinance will remain in effect until amended and/or rescinded which will be as soon as practical and safe. Failure to comply with the ordinance may result in being challenged by law enforcement and use of appropriate action to gain compliance."

Walton County Sheriff's Office deputies will continue to respond to emergencies, but Walton County Fire Rescue has suspended all rescue operations due to deteriorating weather conditions, according to Corey Dobridnia, spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office.

Walton County Fire Rescue operates north of the bridge.

South Walton Fire District, which serves areas south of the bridge, has not yet suspended rescue operations but will be evaluating the calls as they come in, according to Chief Sammy Sanchez.

"With wind speed and conditions, we may not be able to get to you," Sanchez said. "We're starting to get reports of downed power lines and trees."

While folks across the coastal area were reporting increased rain and wind gusts, Crestview's weather was relatively mild.

Alyssa McKay sent a video of someone in a hammock tied between two palm trees as the winds rocked the trees and the hammock back and forth.

"Little rain - little wind. Thankfully we are on the west side of the storm," she wrote the Daily News. "Continued prayers for our friends east of us."

10:30 a.m.

Gulf Power has reported that more than 11,800 of its customers between Pensacola and the Panama City area, as well as points north, had lost power.

More than 8,000 of those customers are in the Panama City area.

More than 2,200 customers in the Destin and Miramar Beach area were without electricity. Most of those were in Sandestin.

There also were 130 customers in the Crestview area and 67 customers in the Fort Walton Beach area without power.

“That’s only a small little start there” overall, Gulf Power spokesman Jeff Rogers said.                 

Many folks in the Panama City area might be without power for a week or more, he said.

Folks across Northwest Florida are reporting rain and wind gusts.

Mariah Bibbey of Cinco Bayou said she lives across the street from the water.

"Wind has definitely picked up," she told the Daily News. "Rain's coming down. The bay is across the street from us but we are uphill at a high elevation but can see it rising."

Bridges remain open in Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties at this time, although MaryAnn Powell, who lives near the MidBay Bridge, said winds were gusting up to 35 miles per hour near her home.

 

 

10:15 a.m.

The U.S. 331 Clyde B. Wells Bridge has been closed due to high winds, according to local authorities.

As Hurricane Michael moves closer to shore, local power companies are reporting outages.

Just before 10 a.m., 185 CHELCO members were without power, CHELCO spokeswoman Rumi Nielson-Green said. Those members included 91 in the Santa Rosa Beach area and 73 by the Breezy Knoll Airport in northwest Walton County.

One account, or household, was without power in the Bluewater Bay area, and several members near Interstate 10 west of Chipley had lost electricity.

Nielson-Green said CHELCO officials just made the decision that, because of worsening storm conditions, the company is not dispatching repair crews south of Choctawhatchee Bay.

"We just lost power," Jesse Middleton in Sandestin just shared with the Daily News.

Officials are urging local residents who have not evacuated to shelter in place at this time.