Gulf Coast braces for Hur­ri­cane Nate

Weather of­fi­cials warn of dan­ger­ous winds, storm surge

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -


A swiftly mov­ing Hur­ri­cane Nate strength­ened in its race to­ward the U.S. on Satur­day and is ex­pected to be a Cat­e­gory 2 hur­ri­cane when it strikes the Gulf Coast be­tween south­east Louisiana and Florida around mid­night.

States of emer­gency were de­clared in Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi, Alabama and Florida as Nate — which has al­ready killed at least 21 peo­ple in Cen­tral Amer­ica — be­came the lat­est in a suc­ces­sion of de­struc­tive storms this hur­ri­cane sea­son.

The Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter is­sued a hur­ri­cane warn­ing for met­ro­pol­i­tan New Or­leans and Lake Pontchar­train and a coastal stretch from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida bor­der. A trop­i­cal storm warn­ing was in ef­fect east of the Okaloosa/ Wal­ton County Line in Florida to In­dian Pass, Florida.

As of 1 p.m. CDT, the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said Nate was 105 miles south of the mouth of the Mis­sis­sippi River, mov­ing north-north­west at 25 mph, bear­ing max­i­mum sus­tained winds of 90 mph.

The cen­ter said Nate was strength­en­ing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mex­ico and is fore­cast to be a Cat­e­gory 2 hur­ri­cane when the cen­ter reaches the Gulf Coast. A Cat­e­gory 2 storm has sus­tained max­i­mum winds be­tween 96 and 110 mph.

Hur­ri­cane-force winds ex­tended out­wards for up to 35 miles from the cen­ter.

The fore­cast warns of a storm surge up to 9 feet in some ar­eas from the mouth of the Mis­sis­sippi to the Alaba­maFlorida bor­der. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Ed­wards urged res­i­dents to take Nate se­ri­ously, say­ing the storm “has the po­ten­tial to do a lot of dam­age.”

Ed­wards said fore­casts in­di­cate the great­est risks are winds and storm surge, rather than in­tense amounts of rain.

Mis­sis­sippi Gov. Phil Bryant de­clared a state of emer­gency in six south­ern­most coun­ties. State of­fi­cials warned that Nate’s main dan­ger will be the up to 10 feet of storm surge.

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