The calm before the storm - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The calm before the storm

The position and projected path of Dennis at 11AM Saturday. The position and projected path of Dennis at 11AM Saturday.
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July 8, 2005

Panama City Beach, Florida-- Many people on the Gulf coast are nervously watching weather reports and hoping to get a clue about where Hurricane Dennis may hit.

Some people already boarded up and headed for safer ground. Others are waiting to see what happens Saturday.

Much like any summer night here, a few tourists are walking the beach. The go-cart tracks are humming and popular restaurants and bars are hopping.

But look closer and you'll see something different. This is definitely the calm before the storm- a serene sunset, lazy waves, a boy and his mom hunting for seashells on a quiet beach.

But about a hundred yards away, that peace is shattered. Michael Braxton and his buddy Sean Newberry, hope Michael’s home on surf drive doesn't end up in the surf on Sunday. "I'm just gonna board up here and hope for the best. That’s about all you can do," said Michael.

Sean rode out Ivan last year. “We had the power go out when they spotted a tornado about a mile from our house. So, that was pretty nerve-wracking."

Michael stayed at home through Ivan too. But he's more worried about Dennis. "It was iffy whether I was going to leave or not, and I just decided to stay."

And what about this one? “I’m getting out,” Michael said. This is category three or four or five. They don't know which it's going to be yet. And anything three or higher you want to get out of the way."

Out of the way of what? Where will Dennis hit? How strong will it be? Those questions will be answered on another day after one more tranquil night.

There wasn't a mass exodus from Panama City Friday night. No traffic jams heading out of town. That could change Saturday when a mandatory evacuation order takes effect.

Ten years ago, Hurricane Opal pounded this area. It caused three billion dollars in damage. Opal was a category three hurricane. Dennis could be stronger than that when he hits shore.

There’s a hurricane watch that stretches from Florida to Louisiana.

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