Gulf Coast braces for Hurricane Nate
Weather officials warn of dangerous winds, storm surge
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.