Preparations well underway for Alberto

Alberto appears as if he’s going to be an unwelcome visitor this Memorial Day weekend — or at the least drench weekend activities.

The subtropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts of up to 65 mph, has formed in the Caribbean Sea and is expected to be approaching the north-central Gulf Coast on Monday. 

Forecasters say the pre-storm season Alberto is expected to gradually strengthen over the next 72 hours, and under its current track will pass near the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula tonight, be near the western tip of Cuba Saturday morning, and emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by Saturday night. Winds of 40 mph extend outward up to 115 miles from the center.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich has called a special meeting of the City Council for this afternoon at 3:30, and he plans to ask councilmembers to declare a state of emergency, which authorizes the mayor to take any necessary steps to help prepare for the storm.  Declaration of a state of emergency is part of the city’s initial preparations for the possibility of a storm or other potential disaster.

“From the reports I’m reading, we can expect winds of up to 40 mph as early as Sunday morning,” said Biloxi Emergency Manager Michelle Crowley. “This means we want residents and business owners to begin making preparations, such as picking up loose items outdoors and take necessary precautions. Don’t be alarmed, just take steps and be prepared.”

This weekend is the traditional beginning of summer and many residents are planning to partake in outdoor activities and travel, even with the forecast of heavy rain.  The Biloxi Fire and Police departments want to remind residents to keep safety in mind, while remembering those who died in active military service.

“Grilling is one of our biggest concerns during Memorial Day weekend,” Fire Chief Joe Boney said. “Yes there is rain forecast but people may still try to grill out.  Citizens need to keep in mind that grills should be used away from buildings, decks, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.”

Grills should also be clean and never left unattended while in use.

Boater, water, and motorist safety is also imperative.

“We still expect a lot of people on the roadways this weekend,” Biloxi Police Assistant Chief Mike Wills said.  “Always pay attention to weather reports, wear your seat belt, plan for extra travel time, and if you encounter a street with standing water, turn around.”

Forecasters are predicting heavy rainfall up to 10 inches in areas causing possible road and river flooding with tides of one to three feet above normal all weekend. In fact, Biloxi and surrounding areas are under a flash flood watch through Saturday evening.

Said Wills, “We want everyone to enjoy this Memorial Day weekend, but we also want everyone to be safe.”

Weekend activities: You can expect to see motorcyclist galore throughout the weekend, with the big Mississippi Gulf Coast Memorial Day Blowout taking place at the Gulfport Dragway, off Canal Road. Also, baseballs will continue to flyer at MGM Park with Conference USA games 7 through 12 taking place today and Saturday, and the championship game taking place on Sunday.  Over at the casinos, Leann Rimes will be at the Beau Rivage, Border will perform at the Hard Rock, and the O’Jays will be at the IP Casino.
This afternoon’s position of Alberto
Alberto: The projected path
See real-time radar
See the weekend forecast
Here’s guidance on how to prepare
See the complete weekend lineup


News and notes: City Desk, office closings, Shuckers, Special Olympics 

City Desk:  This week’s installment of the City Desk podcast, recorded Thursday at Biloxi City Hall, focuses on a recent Ship Island excursion, Bnews, and sandbag locations.  To listen, click here

Municipal closings: All non-emergency municipal offices will be closed on Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

Biloxi Shuckers: The Biloxi Shuckers return to MGM Park on Tuesday for a five-game homestand with the Mississippi Braves.  To see the schedule, click here.

Cops and donuts:  The annual Cops on Donut Shops event, benefiting the Mississippi Special Olympics, will take place on Friday, June 1.  Biloxi police officers as well as some athletes will be at Dunkin’ Donuts in the Hard Rock and on Cedar Lake from 5 to 11 a.m.  To see the flyer, click here.