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Little cause for Ida alarm here

Tropical Storm Ida closed to within 250 miles of the U.S. GulfCoast Monday morning, but the weakening storm is not expected tohave much impact on Southwest Mississippi.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami is projecting the stormto make landfall around 6 a.m. Tuesday near the Alabama-Floridastate line and curve eastward by Wednesday morning. The track couldchange, but so far Ida is not expected to cross over SouthwestMississippi.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said localand state officials are keeping an eye on the tropical storm, butso far Ida has given them no cause for alarm. He said the biggestconcern with Ida would be rainfall.

“I don’t expect anything for us here locally but maybe somerain, at the most 10-15 mph winds, maybe a little bit highergusts,” he said. “We have a conference call with the NationalWeather Service at 10 a.m. (Monday), but I don’t see any reason forus to have any major concerns.”

Galey said Ida, which has weakened considerably in the last 24hours, has not been able to draw its needed energy from aNovember-chilled Gulf of Mexico and has caught interference from anupper-level weather system.

NHC downgraded Tropical Storm Ida from a Category One hurricaneearly Monday morning when its winds fell to around 70 mph. Over theweekend, a newly formed Ida dumped heavy rain on El Salvador, whereflooding and mudslides killed more than 120 people.

Tropical Storm Ida is the first storm of the 2009 hurricaneseason to threaten the Gulf Coast. The season ends Dec. 1.