City orders evacuation of harbors, marinas

The city has ordered owners of vessels in Biloxi’s municipal harbors and marinas to have those vessels moved to safer areas by Sunday at 3 p.m. because of the pending threat from Tropical Storm Sally.

The evacuation order comes as the National Weather Service this afternoon issued a hurricane watch and storm surge watch for Biloxi and the surrounding areas. Forecasters say Sally, with sustained winds near 40 mph, could become a hurricane Monday.

“We realize that our boaters just had to move their vessels with Cristobal,” Port and Harbor Manager Larry Sablich said, “but we cannot take this lightly. This storm came up quickly for most people, but the forecast should not be underestimated.”

Sablich on Friday afternoon notified the 300 boaters at Biloxi’s four harbors and marinas that they should consider evacuating, but the measure was made mandatory this evening after the hurricane and surge watches were issued. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds in an area.

The National Weather Service said that at 7 p.m., the center of Tropical Storm Sally was about 45 miles west of Naples, Fla., and about 455 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The storm was moving toward the west-northwest near 8 mph, and a west-northwestward or northwestward motion is expected through Monday.

On Monday night and Tuesday, the weather service says, a decrease in forward speed and a turn toward the north are forecast. On the forecast track, the center of Sally will move over the southeastern and eastern Gulf of Mexico tonight and Sunday, move over the north-central Gulf Sunday night and Monday, and approach the north-central Gulf Coast within the hurricane watch area late Monday and Tuesday.

The storm currently has maximum sustained winds of near 40 mph with higher gusts. Strengthening is expected over the next couple of days, and Sally is forecast to become a hurricane on Monday.
See the latest on Sally
How to prepare for a storm