As Karen churns in Gulf, residents asked to prepare

The Biloxi City Council will have a special meeting this morning at 9:30, when councilmembers are expected to declare a state of emergency after being briefed about the city’s preparations for Tropical Storm Karen.

The National Hurricane Center late Thursday evening said that Karen – about 475 miles miles south of Biloxi, with sustained winds of 65 mph – was moving north-northwest at 10 mph. The Biloxi area could begin seeing tropical storm gusts today and sustained tropical force winds could be possible Saturday beginning at 1 a.m.

“At this point, we could see 2 to 5 inches of rain this weekend,” Biloxi Emergency Manager Milton Houseman said Thursday afternoon. “We’ll see some possible urban flash flooding at the usual locations, low-lying roadways, and tides could be about three feet above normal Saturday.”

The city is also expected to decide this morning whether boat owners will be ordered to move their vessels from the city’s three public harbors.

“We’ve had questions about whether we’ll issue an order to evacuate the marina and harbors,” Port Division Manager Larry Sablich said, “but we’re waiting until we get more information. At this point, we’re suggesting that boat owners should consider moving to safer anchorage. We’ll decide by mid-morning if we need to make that more than a suggestion.”

Also on Thursday, police officers were notifying RV owners along U.S. 90 that winds would be increasing as the weekend neared.

“We’ve had about a dozen and a half RVs set up along Highway 90 in anticipation of Cruisin’ the Coast kicking off Sunday,” Houseman said. “Right now, we’re just letting them know about the threatening weather. We may reach a point where we need to be a little sterner in our warning. We’re continuing to monitor the weather, and we’ll take action as necessary Friday morning, based on the latest weather forecasts.”

Key city department directors and managers are scheduled to meet this morning to discuss preparations in individual departments. Leaves have been canceled in the public safety department, and Public Works workers were expected to begin removing barricades from west beach, which had been set up as part of the city’s special events traffic plan for Cruisin’ the Coast.

Said Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols: “We’re asking the public to do the same things we’re doing. Review your emergency plan, and follow that plan. Store lawn furniture and other things, like trash cans, in a safe place.

“Make sure your vehicles are fueled. Check your emergency supplies. If you have to evacuate, where would you go? What about your pets? Do the things you ought to be doing now so you’ll be prepared for any contingency.”

More weather info online

The Biloxi weather page: To see the seven-day forecast, warnings and advisories for the Biloxi area and real-time radar and satellite images, all from the National Weather Service,
click here.

Gulf satellite loop: To see a Gulf of Mexico real-time satellite loop,
click here.

Real-time radar: To see real-time radar for Biloxi and the surrounding area, click here.

A storm plan: Do you know what to do before, during and after a storm or flood? Check out the tips, which will help you develop a plan and show you how to create a storm kit. Click here.

Council agenda: To see the agenda for this morning’s council meeting, along with the measure to declare a state of emergency,
click here.