BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The City of Biloxi is encouraging cruisers to consider leaving the area early as Tropical Storm Nate takes aim at the Gulf Coast.
Biloxi firefighters will be handing out a written message from Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich this afternoon, asking people in town for Cruisin' the Coast to consider leaving before the weekend.
"I am writing to say that conditions are expected to deteriorate this weekend with high winds and tides," Gilich said in the postcard. "Out of an abundance of caution, our emergency managers are asking you to consider an early departure."
Biloxi Emergency Manager Michelle Crowley said voluntary evacuations of low-lying area are expected to begin Friday, and officials are working to organize emergency shelters.
Cruisin' the Coast Director Woody Bailey said organizers are carefully watching the storm forecast, but they are not making any changes to the Cruisin' schedule at this time.
"At present, we are moving forward with the event. We are going to take a wait and see approach. Today and tomorrow are looking like two beautiful days," said Bailey. "Safety is paramount. We want everybody to be safe. It will certainly be their decision whether to leave early, but want everybody to be safe."
The WLOX First Alert Weather Team says tropical storm watches could be issued for the Mississippi coast as early as Thursday.
Current forecasts show Nate should reach hurricane strength before making landfall anywhere from Morgan City, LA to Pensacola, FL on Sunday.
Tropical rain bands and tropical storm force wind could move in to South Mississippi as early as Saturday evening.