Mandatory evacuation ordered for harbors

Boats in Biloxi’s public harbors and marinas should be moved by 5 p.m. today to avoid the expected winds and storm surge from Tropical Storm Zeta, says Larry Sablich, who manages the city’s Port Division.

“About half of the 300 or so boats have already relocated,” Sablich said, “and we’re looking to make sure we have no stragglers.”

The National Weather Service has issued storm surge and hurricane warnings, meaning conditions will deteriorate during the next 36 hours. In fact, hurricane conditions and life-threatening storm surge are expected along northern sections of the Gulf of Mexico by late Wednesday. Storm surge and hurricane warnings are already in effect. A storm surge of 4 to 6 feet is forecast.

Forecasters say Zeta, which is now 540 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, is moving toward the northwest at about 14 mph, and this general motion is forecast to continue today.  Zeta should turn toward the north tonight, and a faster northward to north-northeastward motion is expected on Wednesday. 

On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will move over the southern Gulf of Mexico later this morning, and over the central Gulf of Mexico tonight.  Zeta is forecast to approach the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and make landfall within the hurricane warning area late Wednesday or Wednesday night.

Maximum sustained winds are near 70 mph (110 km/h) with higher gusts.  Zeta is forecast to re-strengthen when it moves over the southern Gulf of Mexico later this morning, and become a hurricane again later today.  Zeta is forecast to be at or near hurricane strength when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast late Wednesday.

The city’s Port Division — which operates the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, the adjoining Biloxi Commercial Harbor, Point Cadet Marina and the Sherman Canaan Back Bay Fishing Docks — had recommended on Monday that boaters seek safer locations for the vessels.

“This is the seventh time this year that we’ve been in the cone of uncertainty,” Sablich said, “so I know people are weary of this, but we must be vigilant.”
See path and more on Zeta
How to prepare for a storm