Hurricane Nate forms, heads to central Gulf of Mexico

U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that Nate could raise sea levels by 4 to 7 feet

Hurricane Nate gained force as it continues rapidly moving over the central Gulf of Mexico early Saturday after drenching Central America in rain that was blamed for at least 21 deaths. Forecasters said it was likely to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast over the weekend.

Louisiana and Mississippi officials declared states of state of emergency and Louisiana ordered some people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands ahead of its expected landfall Saturday night or early Sunday. Evacuations began at some offshore oil platforms in the Gulf.

Mississippi’s government said it would open 11 evacuation shelters in areas away from the immediate coast, with buses available for people who can’t drive.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that Nate could raise sea levels by 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 metres) from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border. It had already had caused deadly flooding in much of Central America.

The centre added metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain to its latest hurricane warning.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (128.74 kph) and was likely to strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico, reaching the U.S. Gulf coast near New Orleans late Saturday, according to the hurricane centre’s 4 a.m. CDT update.

READ MORE: Money is running out in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico

READ MORE: ‘The storm didn’t bother me, it’s the devastation’

The storm was located about (555.2 kilometres) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and was moving north-northwest at 22 mph (35 kph).

Authorities cancelled Friday afternoon classes in parts of Mexico’s Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo, where Cozumel and Cancun are located. But Gov. Carlos Joaquin said it appeared the storm would stay well offshore and not hit land, adding “that, I believe, is good news.”

In Nicaragua, Nate’s arrival followed two weeks of near-constant rain that had left the ground saturated and rivers swollen. Authorities placed the whole country on alert and warned of flooding and landslides.

Nicaragua’s vice-president and spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo, said that at least 11 people had died in that country due to the storm. Earlier Thursday she had said 15 people had died before later revising to say some of those were still counted as missing. She didn’t give details on all the deaths, but said two women and a man who worked for the Health Ministry were swept away by a flooded canal in the central municipality of Juigalpa.

Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Organism blamed seven deaths in that country on the storm and said 15 people were missing. Flooding drove 5,000 residents into emergency shelters.

In Honduras, there were three dead and three missing, according to Oscar Triminio, spokesman for the country’s firefighters.

Damage caused by the storm prompted Costa Rican officials to postpone a World Cup qualifying soccer match between that country and Honduras, which had been scheduled for Friday night.

In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and mobilized 1,300 National Guard troops, with 15 headed to New Orleans to monitor the fragile pumping system there.

With forecasts projecting landfall in southeast Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, Edwards urged residents to ready for rainfall, storm surge and severe winds — and to be where they intend to hunker down by “dark on Saturday.”

Louisiana’s governor said Nate is forecast to move quickly, rather than stall and drop tremendous amounts of rain on the state. State officials hope that means New Orleans won’t run into problems with its pumps being able to handle the water.

Edwards warned, however, against underestimating the storm.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border.

Officials ordered the evacuation of part of coastal St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans ahead of the storm. Earlier Thursday, a voluntary evacuation was called in the barrier island town of Grand Isle south of New Orleans.

New Orleans officials outlined steps to bolster the city’s pump and drainage system. Weaknesses in that system were revealed during summer flash floods.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s New Orleans office said in a news release that as of midday Thursday, six production platforms, out of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf, had been evacuated. No drilling rigs were evacuated, but one movable rig was taken out of the storm’s path.

The agency estimated less than 15 per cent of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in, which equates to 254,607 barrels of oil per day.

Associated Press, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

One suspect sought by Leduc RCMP after bank robbery

Leduc RCMP seek public assistance for robbery

High water around Pigeon Lake area Apr. 22

PHOTO STORY Lots of snow melt means lots of water running…

Fertilizer needs for spring in Wetaskiwin area

How to assess your winter wheat in Wetaskiwin area

Fake bottom in container nets cocaine, meth: RCMP

Maskwacis RCMP traffic stop leads to trafficking charges

WCHS student attends Forum for Young Canadians

Notes from the Apr. 10 meeting of board of trustees

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

Turning vehicles into deadly weapons is easy and cheap, expert says

Not all recent vehicle attacks have been linked to terror groups, says Candyce Kelshall

Toronto van attack accused was briefly in Canadian Armed Forces

Alek Minassian was a member of the forces from Aug. 23, 2017 until Oct. 25

Cause of plane crash that killed former Alberta premier Jim Prentice to be released

The findings of investigation into the plane crash that killed four set to be released.

‘Enough is enough’: G7 ministers agree to call Russia out

‘Enough is enough’: G7 ministers agree to call Russia out on ‘malign’ behaviour

Cosby jury to decide: Serial rapist or con artist’s mark

Bill Cosby is at the courthouse Tuesday morning ahead of closing arguments in his sexual assault retrial.

Trump: ‘Our hearts are with the grieving families in Canada’

U.S. President Donald Trump is offering his condolences to Canadians

Most Read