Louisiana bat­tens down

Trop­i­cal storm Nate heads for south­ern US af­ter killing 25 peo­ple in Cen­tral Amer­ica.

Herald on Sunday - - WORLD -

New Orleans evac­u­ated some res­i­dents out­side its levee sys­tem as Trop­i­cal Storm Nate swirled to­ward the US Gulf Coast af­ter killing at least 25 peo­ple in Cen­tral Amer­ica.

Nate is set to be­come a Cat­e­gory 1 hur­ri­cane, the weak­est on a five­cat­e­gory scale, by the time it hits the US cen­tral Gulf Coast to­day.

“Nate is at our doorstep or will be soon,” New Orleans mayor Mitch Lan­drieu said. The great­est threat was not rain, but strong winds and storm surge, he said.

The winds could cause sig­nif­i­cant power out­ages, and storm surges are pro­jected to be 1.8m to 2.7m high.

“We have been through this many, many times. There is no need to panic,” Lan­drieu said.

Yes­ter­day the storm was ex­pected to brush by Mex­ico’s Yu­catan penin­sula, home to beach re­sorts such as Can­cun and Playa del Car­men, be­fore head­ing north into the Gulf of Mex­ico, ac­cord­ing to the US Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­tre in Mi­ami. Nate was blow­ing max­i­mum sus­tained winds of 95 km/h and was about 120km east of the Mex­i­can re­sort is­land of Cozumel early yes­ter­day, the NHC said.

A state of emer­gency was de­clared for 29 Florida coun­ties and states near Nate’s path — Alabama, Louisiana and Mis­sis­sippi — as well as the city of New Orleans, dev­as­tated by Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005.

The NHC is­sued a hur­ri­cane watch from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida bor­der.

“By [to­day] you should be in your safe place,” Alabama Gov­er­nor Kay Ivey told a news con­fer­ence. “This is a fast-mov­ing storm and we must be­gin pre­par­ing now.”

Nearly three-quar­ters of US Gulf of Mex­ico oil pro­duc­tion was off­line ahead of the storm, and more oil com­pa­nies were halt­ing op­er­a­tions. Yes­ter­day Nate was mov­ing north­north­west at 35km/h, a fast pace which could mean the storm does less dam­age when it hits land.

The storm doused Cen­tral Amer­ica with heavy rains on Fri­day, killing at least 12 peo­ple in Nicaragua, nine in Costa Rica, two in Hon­duras and two in El Sal­vador.

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