“We broke the record yesterday,” reported Executive Director Woody Bailey. He said 8,062 cars were registered as of Wednesday, putting the largest event in Mississippi and one of the biggest car shows in the country in “uncharted water again,” he said.
While celebrating that accomplishment, he is watching as the forecast for Tropical Storm Nate shifted on Thursday to a possible landfall in Louisiana or Mississippi on Sunday.
“We’re continuing on with Cruisin’ The Coast,” he said, while mindful of weather forecasts. “We want all our visitors and everyone to be safe,” he said.
Friday’s forecast is for near-perfect conditions, but his staff is speaking with the people who supply the stages and tents to see what kind of lead times they need, Bailey said. Any weather updates will be provided on the Cruisin’ The Coast Facebook page, the website and at the Cruisin’ venues.
They’re also looking into moving Sunday’s activities and giveaways, held under a large tent inside at Centennial Plaza, to one of the buildings that was used during the state’s bicentennial celebration.
Biloxi Fire Department is delivering cards to the owners of the 714 RVs set up on the beach in Biloxi advising them of the approaching storm and asking them to consider moving off the beach before Sunday’s close of Cruisin’.
“Out of an abundance of caution, our emergency managers are asking you to consider an early departure,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said in a message on the card.
Those Cruisin’ The Coast at Edgewater Mall on Thursday said they are aware of the storm and some are planning to leave ahead of schedule.
“We’re from Louisiana — we’re definitely watching,” said Doc Faucheux, who lives near Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. He and his wife, Dawn, are planning to drive off in their ’74 red Corvette on Friday, depending on the weather. “We were going to leave Saturday night,” he said.
Dan Gallagher of Atlanta said he plans to leave probably Saturday morning, while Katie Clements said her group of eight couples from Oklahoma hope to stay until Sunday morning.
“We drove 780 miles to get here,” she said. “We’re going to try to wait it out.”
Bailey said Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy is advising Cruisin’ officials on the forecast.
Bailey also is following weather reports, including from Jim Cantore with The Weather Channel, who landed in Gulfport on Thursday evening and rode out Hurricane Katrina at the former veterans home, which is now Centennial Plaza and Cruise Central on the beach in Gulfport.
“I heard Jim Cantore say the wind shear can effect it on the way,” he said of Nate.
Bailey and his staff spend all year planning for Cruisin’ The Coast, and most years the weather cooperates. Yet this isn’t the first time a tropical storm has come to Cruisin’, he said. He also knows forecasts can change direction. The forecasters said rain likely would drown plans for Monday’s Cruisin’ parade in Long Beach, but the rain stayed away and the parade went on as scheduled.
“We’re kind of in a wait and see situation,” he said, while Cruisin’ keeps running as long as conditions allow.