Feeder bands beginning to move into Biloxi

The first feeder bands of Hurricane Gustav began making their way over Biloxi and the Gulf Coast this evening, as the center of the Category 3 storm was about 200 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and was moving northwest at 18 mph.

Mayor A.J. Holloway, who earlier relayed forecasts of as much as 20 inches of rainfall in some instances and a storm surge as high as 16 feet, said he was encouraged by the continued westward track.

“It’s not as bad as it sounded yesterday,” Holloway said, “but we will still get wind and water, and even a slight jog to the east in the track could significantly increase the winds and water. You never know when you’re out of the woods.”

Currently, hurricane force winds extend outward up to 65 miles and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 220 miles.

“Tropical storm conditions,” the National Hurricane Center said, “should begin to spread onto the northern Gulf Coast tonight, with hurricane conditions starting to spread onshore early Monday morning.”

Status of city’s police, fire departments

Biloxi Police Chief Bruce Dunagan said additional officers would be patrolling the streets Monday morning beginning at 7. Dunagan’s officers are tasked with protecting property where owners have evacuated and enforcing the city’s curfew, which goes into effect at 10 tonight and remains in effect until further notice.

“We’ve continued to work our storm plan,” Dunagan said. “And things are going well.”

Biloxi Fire Chief David Roberts said the department’s entire command staff would be on duty this evening at 8, and a second shift of firefighters would report for duty this evening.

“We’ll have both shifts on duty throughout the day tomorrow,” Roberts said, “and once the threat passes, we’ll have the third shift come into relieve these two.”

Roberts also said all non-essential equipment – such as the department’s fire boat and spare fire trucks — has been removed from Stations 2 and 3, the department’s Point Cadet and Back Bay stations that flooded during the Katrina. Said Roberts: “If we need to move firefighters from those stations in a hurry, we’ll be ready to do so.”

Latest tracking info, advisories

For the latest tracking on Gustav, courtesy of the National Hurricane Center, click here.

To see the hurricane center’s hurricane wind probabilities over the next 120 hours, click here.

For storm preparation information, click here.

To read previous Bmails about Gustav and other issues, click here.