Officials are keeping an eye on the Gulf of Mexico for a potential storm

Published 4:35 pm Friday, September 21, 2007

The coastal counties of Mississippi are keeping an eye on a storm system forming in the Gulf of Mexico.

Local emergency officials have been involved several conference calls with the National Weather Service in Slidell, La. The calls have been keeping the coastal counties of Mississippi, including Pearl River County, informed on the status of a developing storm system threatening landfall this weekend that could cause property damage and could endanger those still living in FEMA trailers.

The slow moving system has the potential to bring two to three inches of rain to the region, possibly even putting a damper on football games scheduled for this weekend, said Mike Koziara with the Slidell National Weather Service.

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The Picayune school district is keeping its eye on the storm. They hope be able to inform students before heading home Friday afternoon about the status of the weekend’s football game. Superintendent Dean Shaw said after the 1 p.m. conference call on Friday, school officials should have enough information to send home with students concerning the status game scheduled in Pascagoula for Saturday.

“It’s going to be a little bit iffy for the football games,” Koziara said.

Frank Rivitte with the Slidell National Weather Service said a in very worst case scenario, the storm could form into a Category One hurricane, bringing storm surges of five to seven feet storm.

The most likely scenario for the coastal region includes two to three inches of rain and the possibility of a coastal flood watch of two to three feet of flooding caused by high tides if the system forms into a subtropical or tropical storm, Rivitte said. Thursday afternoon, the activity was very unorganized but Friday morning the system appeared to be betting slightly more organized.

“The question of really how much it is going to develop, we’re really unsure of,” Rivitte said.

The slow moving system is expected to make land fall either Friday evening or Saturday afternoon. Affected areas include the coastal regions of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and the panhandle region of Florida, Koziara said.

Wind gusts are expected to be between 35 to 45 miles per hour and there is the possibility of isolated tornado activity, Rivitte said. That possibility poses a threat to mobile homes in the coastal region.

Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said conference calls such as these are common when bad weather approaches, but with the memory of Hurricane Katrina only two years old, they have become more public.

“Especially with a storm like this just sitting out there and it could activate like that,” Brown said.