Storm could dampen weekend

Published 12:58 am Friday, September 2, 2011

NATCHEZ — The National Hurricane Center tracked a weather system Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico that could affect the Natchez area during the tail end of this Labor Day weekend.

The NHC has predicted an 80 percent chance the system will develop into Tropical Cyclone Lee within 48 hours, Jackson National Weather Service meteorologist Jared Allen said Thursday afternoon

A cyclone is a low pressure system rotating counter-clockwise in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere.

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The NWS website said the system was located 200 miles off the Louisiana coast Thursday afternoon and heading northwest.

The potential tropical storm is moving slowly and weather models show it should come ashore between Lake Charles, La., and Mobile, Ala., on the late part of Sunday.

“(The system could) really become very slow moving northward and maybe even stationary at Louisiana or Mississippi,” Allen said.

The Natchez area should expect a significant amount of rainfall Sunday through Tuesday, even if the system does not develop into a tropical storm or locate itself centrally over Southwest Mississippi, he said.

While Thursday was too soon for the NWS to predict a clear direction of the system, Southwest Mississippi as well as Central Mississippi could be in its path.

Affected areas could see as little as two inches or as much as eight inches of rain. But some areas could be impacted by more than eight inches of rain, Allen said. He said the possible stationary nature of the storm calls for large amounts of rain.

Allen said the system developed when an inverted wave entered the Caribbean and light wind allowed for storm organization.

“In addition, very warm sea surface temperatures were conducive for fueling these thunderstorms,” Allen said.

Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said the area would benefit from rainfall.

“We could sure use it,” Owens said.

He said, however, that residents should be prepared for power outages as a precautionary measure.

“Hopefully, the wind stays away,” Owens said.

Owens suggested residents keep bottled water and nonperishable food items, such as canned goods, at home.

He said residents should also have a battery-operated radio and extra batteries, as well as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio.

“Make sure your cell phones are charged,” Owens said.