RALEIGH, MS - Tropical Storm Laura has formed in the Caribbean and Tropical Depression Thirteen has formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Both systems are slated to move into the Gulf of Mexico and will pose a threat to the Mississippi Gulf Coast next week. As such, we will begin issuing daily alerts on this rare situation as it moves closer to the Gulf Coast.
At 10AM CDT, the center of Tropical Storm Laura was located near latitude 17.0N, longitude 60.2W. Laura is moving toward the west near 18 mph and a generally west-northwestward motion at a faster forward speed is expected over the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the center of Laura will move near or over the northern Leeward Islands later today, near or over Puerto Rico Saturday morning, and near the northern coast of Hispaniola late Saturday and early Sunday. Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph with higher gusts. Some slow strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles from the center. The minimum central pressure estimated from NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft observations is 1007 mb (29.74 inches).
At 10AM CDT, the center of Tropical Depression Fourteen was located near latitude 16.6N, longitude 84.1W. The depression is moving toward the northwest near 14 mph. A slower northwestward motion is expected over the next couple of days, followed by an increase in speed by Sunday and Monday. On the forecast track, the center of the depression will move away from the coast of Honduras today and will approach the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico on Saturday. The center will then cross the northeastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Saturday night and move over the central Gulf of Mexico toward the northwestern Gulf on Sunday and Monday. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and the depression is expected to become a tropical storm later today. The system is forecast to be near or at hurricane strength when it reaches the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico late Saturday. Some weakening is expected as it moves over the Yucatan Peninsula Saturday night. Afterward, strengthening is forecast on Sunday as it moves offshore and enters the southern Gulf of Mexico. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1008 mb (29.77 inches).
It is imperative that you plan now for potential hurricane conditions. This is a rare situation and Mississippi will feel the impacts from two tropical cyclones only 24-48 hours apart from each other. You can find information on how to plan for a tropical system by downloading the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency's 2020 Hurricane Preparedness Guide here.
Should an evacuation be ordered for the Gulf Coast, please make yourself aware of the evacuation routes.
Evacuation routes in coastal Mississippi are:
- Interstate 10
- Interstate 110
- Interstate 59
- US Highway 90
- US Highway 49
- US Highway 98
- State Route 43
- State Route 603
- State Route 53
- State Route 605
- State Route 67
- State Route 15
- State Route 609
- State Route 57
- State Route 63
While an evacuation would not be expected for Smith County, evacuation routes in Smith County include:
- State Route 35
- State Route 28
- State Route 13
We will issue the next update at 10AM tomorrow.
RALEIGH, MS - As Mississippi experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases that are overwhelming hospitals, we wanted to take a few moments and update you on where the county stands, and what the data says about spread within the county.
As of 6:00PM CDT, on August 3rd, the Mississippi Department of Health is reporting 385 cases of COVID-19 within Smith County, 13 deaths due to COVID-19, 54 of those 385 cases are within long-term care facilities, and 8 of those 13 deaths are from LTCFs. This represents a 220% increase in cases since our last COVID-19 update that we gave on May 19th.
What this tells us is that community transmission is ongoing, COVID-19 is still being spread, and largely social distancing protocols and mask-wearing measures are being ignored.
Many Mississippians are confused by the orders currently in place, and what has been rescinded. The Office of the Governor has released a cheat sheet that outlines these details, and we encourage every Smith Countian to look it over and familiarize yourself with the current measures.
Ultimately, the facts and the science has not changed. COVID-19 has not disappeared, it will not simply vanish, and it is not a hoax. We remain steadfast in our goal to curb community spread, prevent long-term hospital overload, and stand united to help protect ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities.
Social distancing, proper hygiene, and mask-wearing are our best tools against COVID-19 at this time, and will remain that way until a vaccine is developed and widely available. We encourage every Smith Countian to mask up, and practice social distancing. It is the absolute best thing you can do on a personal level for your community, your county, state, and your country.
You can view detailed data on the current state of COVID-19 spread within Smith County, including data relating to cases by race, sex, etc. below. Data was aggregated by the Mississippi Department of Health and is accurate as of August 1st, 2020.