New Orleans Prepares as Nate Looks to Upgrade to Hurricane Status

Matthew Little
By Matthew Little
October 6, 2017US News
New Orleans Prepares as Nate Looks to Upgrade to Hurricane Status
New Orleans residents fill sandbags in preparation for Tropical Storm Nate in New Orleans on Oct. 6, 2017. Nate is expected to become a Catagory 1 Hurricane as it enters the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Tropical Storm Nate is bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast with Louisiana in its sights and ambitions to be upgraded to a hurricane, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.

Reports from Air Force Reserve and NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are now near 50 mph with higher gusts,” says the latest warning from the NHC.

Tropical storm warnings are already in effect for parts of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico, but it could be the U.S. south coast that sees the worst of Nate as the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico intensify the storm before it makes landfall along the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline on Saturday night or Sunday morning. 

“Nate is expected to become a hurricane by the time it reaches the northern Gulf of Mexico,” says the NHC.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared a state of emergency for New Orleans on Thursday, Oct. 5, advising residents to take shelter in place as no mandatory evacuation order has yet been issued. Sandbags would be available 24 hours a day, the city announced Thursday. 

Residents are being warned to prepare for up to a week without electricity. They’ve also been asked not to drive through flooded streets after the storm arrives, as the waves can push water into people’s homes and businesses.

The mayor has tried to keep residents calm, but has also advised them to protect their belongings.

Louisiana Governor Gov. John Bel Edwards is promoting a website and app to help residents learn how to prepare for the storm.

The NHC is already warning cities along the coast to watch for a storm surge that could bring massive waves on the coast from Morgan City, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border.

That surge of extra-high tides and waves is a consequence of Nate’s gusts and the low atmospheric pressure which will intensify if it reaches hurricane status.

From Morgan City to the Alabama/Florida border, the surge could result in four to seven feet rises above normal, with smaller surges of two to four feet from the Alabama/Florida border to Indian Pass, Florida.

“The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the east of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves,” says the NHC.

The severity of flooding will depend on the timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, as well as rainfall.

The NHC is currently predicting three to six inches of rainfall in U.S. Central Gulf Coast states but there is the potential for a maximum of 12 inches.

In Central America, that rainfall could produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

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