Cruisers get the word: Consider leaving early

Clear skies abound at the moment, but the threat of Tropical Storm Nate this weekend is causing emergency managers to ask Cruisin’ the Coast visitors to consider cutting their visit short.

In fact, Biloxi firefighters later this afternoon will be delivering a postcard from Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich to the hundreds of RVs and campers along U.S. 90 in Biloxi and in beachfront RV parks:

“I am writing to say that conditions are expected to deteriorate this weekend with high winds and tides,” Gilich said in a card to fellow cruisers. “Out of an abundance of caution, our emergency managers are asking you to consider an early departure. Continue to monitor weather reports. Follow the City of Biloxi for breaking news on Facebook and Twitter, along with other weather sources. We regularly update a taped message at 228-435-6300.”

The Biloxi Fire Department on Tuesday at noon said 714 RVs and campers were along U.S. 90 and in beachfront RV parks, and the number had been expected to grow as the weekend approached.

The National Weather Service is now reporting that Nate is expected to be a hurricane south of the Louisiana coast by Saturday night, and landfall somewhere between extreme SE Louisiana and Alabama Sunday. 

On Wednesday, the weather service had reported that Tropical Depression 16 was expected to strengthen into a Tropical Storm, with minimum winds of 35 mph. It did. The weather service also said the storm is expected to enter the Gulf and strengthen into a hurricane. Originally, the weather service, had projected the storm would threaten the Panama City, Fla. area, but overnight the track was adjusted westward, with Biloxi now in the center of the cone of uncertainty.

City officials are asking city harbor and marina boat owners to relocate their vessels to a safer location beginning Friday and plan to install portable video boards at city entrances to warn of the threat of Nate.

Mayor Gilich also is expected to ask the Biloxi City Council to declare a state of emergency to help the city prepare for Nate. Harrison County Supervisor Beverly Martin, who represents Biloxi, said the county is preparing similar action. Also scheduled to meet to consider weather developments is the board of Cruisin’ the Coast, which this year has attracted its largest number of registrants in its 21 years: more than 8,000 vehicles from across the country.

Biloxi Emergency Manager Michelle Crowley said voluntary evacuations of low-lying areas are expected to begin Friday. Shelter openings are in the works, she added, and Coast Transit will soon be announcing arrangements for those needing transportation.

Sand bags: Self-serve sand bags are now available at Biloxi Fire Station 8, 8479 Woolmarket Road, Station 9, 9370 Oaklawn Road, Biloxi, MS 39532; Cavalier Park, 2059 Lawrence St.; Popp’s Ferry Recreational Soccer Fields, 2150 Popp’s Ferry Road; and Todd Migues Park, 425 Parker St.
See the mayor’s note to Cruisers
See the National Hurricane Center’s 1 p.m. track on Nate
See the local 10 a.m. briefing on Nate