Mayor A.J. Holloway and the Biloxi City Council today acknowledged the threat posed by Tropical Storm Arlene, which is expected to make landfall in the central Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, but residents are expected to begin seeing rainfall this evening.
The City Council granted Holloway’s request to declare a state of emergency during a 1:30 meeting this afternoon at City Hall.
An hour earlier, around noon, Harrison County Civil Defense ordered a mandatory evacuation of gulf-side harbors and marinas, which accounts for more than 500 vessels in the city’s three marinas – Point Cadet on the eastern tip of the peninsula, and the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and adjoining Commercial Harbor near downtown Biloxi.
Public Works Director Richard Sullivan and Biloxi Civil Defense Director Linda Atterberry said the city could implement a bridge opening schedule at the Popp’s Ferry Bridge, if marine traffic warrants. If implemented, the schedule would call for a 10-minute opening for marine traffic at the top and bottom of every hour. Motorists would be advised through local radio and TV stations.
Bridges are “locked down” – and will not raise for marine traffic – when sustained winds reach 34 mph.
Mayor Holloway, meanwhile, repeated his advice to residents: “Continue to monitor the weather reports and take prudent steps, such as checking your hurricane kit to ensure you have working batteries, a transistor radio and other supplies you need. There’s no reason to be alarmed at this point, but remember this: It’s a lot easier to explain why you over-prepared, than it is to make excuses on why you under-prepared.”
At 4 p.m. this afternoon, the National Weather Service reported that “the poorly defined center of Tropical Storm Arlene was about 335 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The city plans to continue transmitting storm-related e-news as warranted throughout the evening, Holloway said, and the city’s web site has information on preparing a storm kit, how to protect your property from flooding, and links to National Weather Service radar locations from Mobile to Key West. To see for yourself, click here.
For those in need of a storm tracking map, click here.
News and notes
Inauguration Day: Municipal leaders will officially begin their new terms of office on the first Monday in July, according to state statute, but Biloxi’s leaders will get a ceremonial head start almost a week earlier, on June 28, when an inauguration ceremony will be held at the Saenger Theater in downtown Biloxi. Details on the ceremony next week.
Weather or not: This weekend’s entertainment lineup includes the Summer Fair at the Coast Coliseum, weather permitting; Grammy-winner Michael McDonald at the Beau Rivage; one-time Grammy-nominees Hozey and Brown at the Isle of Capri; and Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts serving up R&B at Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis. To see the complete lineup, click here.
Traffic: To see the latest on road work throughout the city, the BPD’s radar schedule and to view MDOT’s two traffic cams in Biloxi, click here.
Webcasting: Elections, traffic and other issues dominate this week’s “City Desk’ webcast. To listen, click here.
Batter up: Randy Jenkins of the city’s Parks & Recreation Department has been busy preparing for July’s return of the Big League Baseball Tournament, featuring teams from nine states. Find our more about the tournament in a special section of the city’s web site. Click here.
Barry ball: Meantime, Barry Ball is back. Biloxi’s Barry Lyons is working with local teams this year in the Big League tournament and Cotton States Baseball League. To read more on Barry’s web site, click here.
In the eyes of Arlene: Ward 3 Councilmember Arlene Canaan, after voting with fellow councilmembers to approve the state of emergency declaration in Biloxi as Tropical Storm Arlene churned in the Gulf of Mexico, had a message for her three colleagues at the end of this afternoon’s meeting. “Let me make this clear,” Canaan, tongue firmly in cheek, said of the storm bearing her name, “I have nothing to do with this.”