The outer bands of Hurricane Nate flogged parts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi with heavy rain Saturday afternoon as Gulf Coast residents prepared for an evening landfall and those in low-lying fields fled for higher ground.
As of 5 p. m. ET, Nate was situated about 50 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 140 miles south of Biloxi, Miss. Nate was a Category 1 cyclone with maximum gales of 90 mph. Forecasters said it’s possible that it could strengthen to a Category 2 with gusts of at the least 96 mph before it attains landfall.
On the move! Nate’s 28 mph forward motion, in the last 12 hours, is the fastest recorded forward motion of a Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico pic.twitter.com/ A6spfrJxlC
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Forecasters also said Nate could dump 3 to 6 inches of rain on the region — with isolated totals of up to 10 inches.
Mississippi’s six southern-most districts proclaimed emergency situations, with the state’s emergency handling administrator calling Nate “the worst hurricane that has impacted Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina.”
“Everyone needs to understand that, ” Lee Smithson told reporters. “this is a significantly dangerous situation.”
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Nate was expected to pass to the east of New Orleans, sparing the city its most ferocious breezes and blizzard surge. Nonetheless, the cyclone could pose a major test for the city’s fragile pumping and drainage system. Key weaknesses – including the failure of some pumps and power-generating turbines – were uncovered after an Aug. 5 deluge flooded homes and firms in some sections of the city. City officers enforced a 7 p. m. curfew for Saturday.
On Alabama’s Dauphin Island, water had already begun rinsing over the road Saturday on the island’s low-lying west terminate, said Mayor Jeff Collier. The blizzard was projected to bring blizzard surges from seven to 11 feet near the Alabama-Mississippi state line. Some of the biggest impacts could be at the top of funnel-shaped Mobile Bay.
The window for preparing “is quickly closing, ” Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings said.
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Florida Gov. Rick Scott alerted residents of the Panhandle to prepare for Nate’s impact.
The governor said Saturday that residents in evacuation zones in Escambia and Santa Rosa districts should heed the warnings and seek safe shelter from the cyclone. He said shelters may be allowed people who have nowhere else to go.
“Hurricane Nate ought to be able to bringing life-threatening blizzard surges, strong winds and tornadoes that could reach across the Panhandle, ” Scott said. The evacuations affect roughly 100,000 occupants in the western Panhandle.
The Pensacola International Airport announced it will close at 6 p. m. Saturday and remain closed on Sunday.
However, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport remained open Saturday.
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“The airport does not close, ” spokeswoman Michelle Wilcut said. “We are advising customers to check with their specific airlines to see whether their flights have been canceled because there have been some of those.”
Waterside parts of New Orleans, outside the city’s levee system, were under an evacuation order. About 2,000 people were affected. But not everyone was complying.
Gabriel Black of New Orleans’ Venetian Isles community mailed his wife, a friend, and three puppies to a hotel in the town. Black bided behind because an 81 -year-old neighbor refused to leave.
“I know it musics insane, but he has bad legs and he doesn’t have anybody who can get to him, ” Black said.
Others nearby were remaining as well. Nancy and Cleve Bell said their house is make so high off the ground that it stayed dry in the floods after Hurricane Katrina. Nancy Bell said they have a generator and plenty of renders, and will be safe.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he spoke with President Trump on Saturday morning. “He assured me that LA would have all the assistance we need as we prepare for #Nate, ” the governor posted on Twitter.
The National Hurricane Center said a hurricane advising given effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border. A hurricane warning was also in effect for metropolitan New Orleans and nearby Lake Pontchartrain. Tropical storm warnings widened west of Grand Isle to Morgan City, Louisiana, and around Lake Maurepas and east of the Alabama-Florida border to the Okaloosa-Walton County line in the Florida Panhandle.
The Associated Press contributed to this report . i>