Parts of Mississippi could start feeling the effects of Tropical Storm Cristobal as early as this evening, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Greg Michel said Wednesday.

“Cristobal is moving slowly,” he said. “The ‘so what’ to that is that we are going to watch it closely. Late Thursday, we will start feeling the winds of that storm, regardless of where the storm hits.”

As of 4 pm. Wednesday, Cristobal was still hitting the Yucatan Peninsula, moving toward the southeast near 3 mph.

It was expected to turn toward the east by Wednesday night, dissipate into a tropical depression today, then go north-northeast and re-emerge over the Gulf of Mexico and gain strength on Friday.

It had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph as it brought deadly flooding to Mexico and Central America.

Forecasters warned of a risk of storm surge, heavy rain and strong winds along the Gulf Coast from Texas to the Florida Panhandle.

With Cristobal threatening the state, Michel discussed how storm shelters will operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michel said he spoke with emergency managers on the coast about shelter operations.

“They are going to look different,” he said.  “You will be required to wear a mask. If you go into a shelter, there will be masks and sanitizer available and social distancing will be enforced.”

Michel said though shelters will be open, it’s best to be prepared and avoid the need for a shelter.

Michel also talked about the procurement of personal protection equipment. He said that the state is getting ready to send out more cloth masks to every county, but he wants Mississippians to know that they need to start obtaining their own masks because the state cannot continue to provide them.

“Procure them wherever you can,” he said. “At some point our ability to push masks out will dwindle.”

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