Pensacola is located at (30.436988, −87.209277), on the north side of Pensacola Bay. It is 59mi east of Mobile, Alabama, and 196mi west of Tallahassee, the capital of Florida. According to the United States Census Bureau, Pensacola has a total area of 105.4km2, consisting of 58.4km2 of land and 47.0km2, 44.62%, water.
The land is up sloping to the north from Pensacola Bay with most of the area having elevations above hurricane storm surge.
The Seville Tower is one of the many historic and famous buildings in Pensacola.
Pensacola does not have a prominent skyline, but has several low-rise buildings. The tallest is the 15-floor Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, which stands at 146ft. Other tall buildings include the Scenic Apartments (98ft), SunTrust Tower (96ft), Seville Tower (88ft), and the AT&T Building (76ft).
Historic buildings in Pensacola include the First National Bank Building.
Cantonment Clinch, a short-lived United States Army outpost, began providing meteorological observations in the 1820s through the 1830s. Observations from the Pensacola area by other sources continued intermittently over the next several decades.
Weather statistics since the late 20th century have been recorded at the airport. The city has seen single digit temperatures (below −12 °C) on three occasions: 5°F on January 21, 1985, 7°F on February 13, 1899 and 8°F on January 11, 1982. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Pensacola has a humid subtropical climate, (Köppen Cfa), with short, mild winters and hot, humid summers. Typical summer conditions have highs in the lower 90s °F (32–34 °C) and lows in the mid 70s °F (23–24 °C). Afternoon or evening thunderstorms are common during the summer months. Due partly to the coastal location, temperatures above 100°F are relatively rare, and last occurred in June 2011, when two of the first four days of the month recorded highs reaching the century mark. The highest temperature ever recorded in the city was 106°F on July 14, 1980.
The daily average temperature in January is 51.4°F; freezing temperatures occur on an average 13.7 nights per season, with the average window for freezing conditions being from December 13 to February 20. Temperatures below 20°F are very rare, and last occurred on January 8, 2015, when a low of 19°F was seen. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the city was 5°F on January 21, 1985.
Snow is rare in Pensacola, but does occasionally fall. The most recent snowfall event occurred December 9, 2017, and the snow event previous to it occurred on February 12, 2010. The city receives 65.27in of precipitation per year, with a slightly more rainy season in the summer. The rainiest month is July, with 7.40in, with May being the driest month at 4.17in. In June 2012 over one foot (300 mm) of rain fell on Pensacola and adjacent areas, leading to widespread flooding. On April 29, 2014. Pensacola was drenched by at least 20 inches of rain within a 24-hour period, causing the worst flooding in 30 years
The city suffered a major blow on February 23, 2016, when a large EF3 wedge tornado hit the northwest part of Pensacola, causing major damage and several injuries.
It is not uncommon to see waterspouts on the beaches in the area. Most of these waterspouts are small and do not pose a significant risk to people enjoying the beach. Often, the waterspouts toss umbrellas and chairs around and give a good scare. Sometimes they are large enough to cause some minor damage to buildings in the area.
Damage done by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 at the bayou near Naval Air Station
Pensacola's location on the Florida Panhandle makes it vulnerable to hurricanes. Major hurricanes which have made landfall at or near Pensacola since the late 20th century include Eloise (1975), Frederic (1979), Juan (1985), Erin (1995), Opal (1995), Georges (1998), Ivan (2004), Dennis (2005), and Michael (2018). In July 2005, Hurricane Dennis made landfall just east of the city, sparing it the damage received from Ivan the year before. However, hurricane and near-hurricane-force winds were recorded in downtown, causing moderate damage.
Pensacola received only a glancing blow from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, resulting in light to moderate damage reported in the area. The aftermath of the extensive damage from Katrina was a dramatic reduction in tourism coming from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Pensacola and several surrounding areas were devastated by Hurricane Ivan. Pensacola was on the eastern side of the eyewall, which sent a large storm surge into Escambia Bay; this destroyed most of the I-10 Escambia Bay Bridge. The storm knocked 58 spans off the eastbound and westbound bridges and misaligned another 66 spans, forcing the bridge to close to traffic in both directions. The surge also destroyed the fishing bridge that spanned Pensacola Bay alongside the Phillip Beale Memorial Bridge, locally known as the Three Mile Bridge.
Over $6 billion in damage occurred in the metro area and more than 10,000 homes were destroyed, with another 27,000 heavily damaged. NASA created a comparison image to illustrate the massive damage. Because of the widespread losses, Hurricane Ivan drove up the cost of housing in the area, leading to a severe shortage of affordable housing.