Only a few white caps were rolling up on Harrison County's beaches in Mississippi late Monday night but a large number of clouds were pushing in across the Gulf of Mexico.
Rupert Lacy, Harrison County's emergency management director, studied the front beach and its water levels just before midnight as he checked on different areas of the county.
Wind gusts had reached as high as 27 mph, he said, and a few light showers had fallen, but it was nothing near what the Coast can expect later Tuesday and into the night.
Showers and thunderstorms are likely starting after 1 a.m., and as Tropical Storm Isaac picks up speed, the Coast can expect wind gusts of 55 mph and higher as Isaac moves toward the Coast.
Isaac is expected to reach hurricane-strength before it comes ashore late Tuesday or early Wednesday somewhere near the Louisiana-Mississippi line. If it comes at high tide Wednesday morning, that will only make flooding worse, Lacy said.
"We would have the high tide plus the storm surge plus the rain, and then we will have an urban flood," Lacy said. "That's why I've been saying all along that we should be prepared."
In Jackson County, Donald Langham left the emergency operations center to visit shelters and supply each of them with radios.
The county's special-needs center had five people spending the night. Langham said at least two dozen others had checked in at two other shelters in the Jackson County.
"More people will start coming in Tuesday," Langham said.
Coast officials are urging all residents of low-lying areas to seek shelter elsewhere.
The Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport has cancelled all flights after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Casinos in Hancock County have already closed. Gulfport's casino and the 10 casinos in Biloxi remained open early Tuesday pending an order from the Mississippi Gaming Commission. The Beau Rivage in Biloxi announced it is closing its hotel at 8 a.m. Tuesday, but the casino will remain open until it is ordered to close.
Coast schools have closed but numerous businesses, including grocery stores, are still open, but that is expected to change later in the day.
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