USA - New Orleans, Gulf Coast brace for Tropical Storm Nate


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(CNN) - States from Louisiana to Florida braced Friday for Tropical Storm Nate, forecast to pound the Gulf Coast this weekend as a hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center on Friday upgraded the tropical storm warning for New Orleans to a hurricane warning. It extends from New Orleans to Lake Pontchartrain and Grand Island, Louisiana, eastward to the Alabama-Florida border.

The storm is expected to make landfall around midnight Saturday east of New Orleans, which was devastated 12 years ago by Hurricane Katrina. It would be the third hurricane, after Harvey and Irma, to hit the US mainland in six weeks.

A storm surge warning was put in place from Morgan City to the western part of the Florida Panhandle, as well as along the northern and western shores of Lake Pontchartrain.

"Residents in these areas should heed any evacuation instructions given by local officials," the hurricane center said.

Nate killed at least 24 people as it passed Thursday over Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, where it caused widespread flash flooding and mudslides, officials said.

Over the warm waters of the northwestern Caribbean Sea, Nate was forecast to gain strength as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico later Friday and become a hurricane by the time it reaches the northern Gulf Coast, the hurricane center said.

Nate packed maximum sustained winds of 65 mph Friday evening and was moving north-northwest at 22 mph, the hurricane center said. It was about 90 miles northeast of Cozumel, a Mexican island near the Yucatan Peninsula.

CNN.com