A State of Emergency has been declared for Choctaw County in preparation for any potential local impact from what is now Tropical Storm Nate.
County and municipal officials, emergency responders, and other personnel met in the conference room at the Choctaw County Emergency Management Office on Monday to view a webinar from the National Weather Service in Mobile, gaining updates about the potential threats from the storm.
According to weather officials, the storm was moving north-northwest at about 20 mph as of 11 a.m. today, and is predicted to become a Category 1 Hurricane as it moves over Gulf waters in the coming hours.
Officials said that, since the storm is moving quickly, it would likely not have time to grow into a larger hurricane while moving through the Gulf, but that speed also means that it may not dissipate when it moves farther inland.
The Mobile area is expected to see the onset of winds from the storm beginning at about 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, with the storm making landfall by mid-afternoon.
The coastal areas, including Mobile and Baldwin counties, and the panhandle of Florida, could see storm surges between three and five feet, with storm-force winds affecting areas along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines.
Gov. Kay Ivey made a declaration of a State of Emergency for the state earlier this morning, which will pave the way for federal resources in case they are needed.
Locally, predictions show that Choctaw County could see wind gusts of up to 70 mph and several inches of rainfall, along with the potential for tornadoes as the storm moves through the area. The county should begin to see some impact from the storm by early evening on Saturday.
The fast-moving storm system is expected to move out of the area by mid-morning on Sunday.
Probate Judge Michael Armistead said that, from the predictions provided by the National Weather Service, the storm will maintain strength coming into this area, with the most significant problems related to strong wind gusts and spin-off tornadoes.
Emergency Management Agency Director Tyler Davidson said that actions are being taken to be prepared with resources and local response in the event that they are needed.
Armistead said that county road crews would be on stand-by throughout the weekend in case of downed trees or other issues related to roadways in the county.
“Equipment is ready to go if needed,” Armistead said. “This is not going to be a Katrina, but we need to be ready.”
The E911 department will also have additional staffing for the weekend to handle an influx of emergency calls that may occur during the storm.
Davidson said that he had been in touch with the state officials and that all resources are in place if needed.
For now, no local shelters will be officially opened, but locations are now on standby if the need arises. Davidson said that residents can log on to the EMA App for a list of shelters, or watch for information through social media and this newspaper.
Davidson also said that he will be talking with officials with local electrical power companies today to give them updates on what can be expected during the storm.
Armistead said that the emergency measures have been in the works over the past two days in preparation for any threat from the storm as it moves through the county.
“Hopefully, we will not have to enact these provisions, but they will be ready if we do,” Armistead said.