Nate Drenches US Gulf Coast after Devastating Central America

Hurricane Nate, after drenching New Orleans, made its second US landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi, shortly after midnight local time Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane. It’s the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Just hours earlier, Nate had made its first US landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeast Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center reported Saturday night.

Hurricane Nate had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. It was moving north at 20 mph and was 5 miles west of Biloxi, according to the National Hurricane Center early Sunday.

Nate triggered hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge warnings through a swath of the Gulf states, as residents braced for the third hurricane to hit the US mainland in six weeks.

Officials warned coastal communities of the storm surge, which is the height of water above dry ground. In Mississippi, the storm surge could reach up to 11 feet, according to the hurricane center.

Nate is expected to weaken quickly as it makes its way inland and the hurricane center predicted it’s likely to become a tropical storm later Sunday.

“The good news is that it’s not a Category 2, it’s breaking down … but really it’s going to be about the storm surge threat,” said Tom Sater, CNN meteorologist.

Winds as fast as 89 mph were reported east of Venice, Louisiana, and 70 mph at Keesler Air force Base, Mississippi.
By Sunday morning, a hurricane warning was in effect for coastal areas from the mouth of Pearl River on the Louisiana-Mississippi border eastward to the Alabama-Florida border.

Power was out for 7,000 people in Alabama, 4,400 customers in Mississippi and 3,600 in Florida’s Panhandle region, according to companies.

Meanwhile, rain soaked coastal Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi much of Saturday. Nate could drop three to six inches of rain, with 10 inches possible in some areas, from the central Gulf Coast north across the Deep South, the eastern Tennessee Valley and the southern Appalachians through Monday, the hurricane center said. Flash flooding is a danger.

“Nate’s center will continue to move inland over Mississippi and across the Deep South, Tennessee Valley, and central Appalachian Mountains through Monday,” according to the National Hurricane Center’s early Sunday advisory.

As the storm moves inland, it could mean more power outages, debris and flight delays, Sater said.

Earlier Nate caused devastation in Central America. At least 28 people were killed Thursday in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Hundreds were rescued from floodwaters and mudslides. Many lost power and running water.