Radar images depicting the storm and tornado warning on Wednesday morning
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Wednesday morning storm disrupts school day, leaves hundreds without power

A severe thunderstorm that moved through Gulf County on Wednesday morning has resulted in school cancellations and widespread power outages near Wewahitchka.

Wewahitchka High School and Elementary School have cancelled classes for the day, with active tornado warnings preventing students from safely arriving at campus. Administrators made the decision to remain closed for the day due to logistical issues.

Students in Port St. Joe had already arrived at school when the warnings went out. Therefore, the school day will resume as normal at Port St. Joe High School and Port St. Joe Elementary School.

“Because of the difference in time zones, we were able to quickly stop bus departures and the opening of schools in Wewahitchka,” said Gulf District Schools Superintendent Jim Norton in a statement. “For the schools in Port St. Joe, the busses had completed their morning routes when the tornado warning sounded. Per safety protocol, we quickly took appropriate measures to keep students safe.”

“Shortly after, there was a second tornado warning for the Oak Grove area near our Port St. Joe schools. All students took cover, and I am happy to report everyone is safe.”

According to Norton, and absences at Gulf County schools Wednesday will be administratively excused.

All schools are expected to resume their regular schedules tomorrow.

Schools in Bay and Franklin Counties implemented late starts to their school days in anticipation of the sever weather.

Gulf County Emergency management Director Matt Herring said that Wednesday morning’s storm also caused widespread power outages in the Wewahitchka area.

“(There are) 650 customers in Wewa without power,” he told The Star shortly after 9 a.m. CST.

This report will be updated as more information becomes available.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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