Wednesday to bring worst weather for Miss-Lou

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, August 28, 2012

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Mayor Butch Brown asks a question during an emergency meeting with city, county, school and other officials regarding Tropical Storm Isaac Monday afternoon in the Emergency Management office.

NATCHEZ — Weather conditions in the Miss-Lou should begin to slowly disintegrate later this afternoon, worsen Wednesday and become most dangerous late Wednesday night, thanks to Isaac.

The storm — expected to be a hurricane at landfall in south Louisiana tonight — will likely be a tropical storm again when it reaches Natchez and Vidalia, according to National Weather Service reports.

When the full thrust of the storm makes landfall on the Gulf Coast, the Miss-Lou will already be receiving some of the outer rainfall associated with it.

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Before Isaac vacates the area, the Miss-Lou is expected to receive up to 5 inches of rainfall.

“They are putting us in the 70-percent chance of tropical storm force winds, and they are talking about us getting gusts of wind up to 70 miles an hour,” Adams County Emergency Director Stan Owens said.

National Weather Service meteorologist in Jackson Daniel Lamb said the NWS is predicting sustained winds of more than 40 mph in Natchez, with gusts between 50-60 mph, especially on Wednesday as Isaac gets closer to the area, Lamb said.

Since the high winds will occur over a prolonged period over time, at least into Thursday and possibly Friday, Lamb said there is an increased risk of trees being down and utilities being affected.

Owens agreed, saying heavy rainfall would wreak havoc locally.

“With that much rain we are going to see some power loss, and we are going to see some trees come down,” he said.

In anticipation of the storm landing, the Adams County Board of Supervisors approved a declaration of emergency Monday morning at Owens’ behest. Natchez Mayor Butch Brown issued an executive order to the same effect later in the morning, and the city aldermen are expected to give their final approval of that order today.

The emergency declaration expands the parameters of local government, Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said.

“It allows the road department and other departments in the county to expand their services for the residents of Adams County as it relates to safety factors,” Grennell said.

For example, the declaration will allow the road department to remove trees blocking access out of private property, Grennell said.

Concordia Parish Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said the parish has not declared a state of emergency, but the parish has been making preparations in advance of the storm, and he said he anticipated that a disaster declaration would eventually happen.

“I have had people out all day today making sure all the main drainage was unclogged, that there was no debris in it,” Ferrington said. “We have sandbags available for the heavy rain.”

“We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best.”

No evacuations have been ordered locally, though Owens said Adams County would review possible evacuations of residents in mobile homes if needed.

Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said the county is not currently considering issuing a curfew for the storm event, and Owens said he did not see a need for such an order as long as the storm’s sustained winds were below hurricane levels.

No local shelters are open, and Adams County will not serve as an evacuation point for those living in coastal areas.

“We are in the sights of the storm,” Owens said. “We don’t want to put resources to protecting people from out of town when we need to be protecting ourselves.”

Still, guests were filling hotels. Several local hotels reported increased occupancy rates and a number of calls from the south Louisiana area.

Evacuees are advised to go “way east or way west of Natchez,” Owens said.

“(Isaac) is a pretty large storm, and it is reaching pretty far out,” he said.

“If it moves any it will be to the west, which puts us on the evil side of the storm.”

The eastern side of hurricanes and tropical storms often throw off tornadoes.