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Nate bears down on northern Gulf Coast

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Tropical Storm Nate seen over Central America.  
     NOAA NASA

The hurricane is moving rapidly and is projected to make landfall, southeast of New Orleans sometime Saturday evening.

Tropical Storm Nate gained force as it sped toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Friday after drenching Central America in rain that was blamed for at least 21 deaths. It was still a Category 1 storm but was expected to reach Category 2 strength before making landfall.

Tropical storm warnings extended 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.

Both the governors of Louisiana and MS have proclaimed states of emergency to hasten preparations.

Nate will be the third hurricane to hit the United States mainland in six weeks, following hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is preparing for Nate, in case it develops into a hurricane.

The hurricane center expects Nate to continue moving quickly, and said on the current path the center of the storm will make landfall on the north-central Gulf Coast tonight. Nate will test the resiliency of New Orleans pumping stations, which are operating at 92 percent capacity after being strained by previous flooding this summer, The New Orleans Advocate explains.

The surge forecasts for the MS and Alabama coasts are particularly concerning.

A dozen casinos in MS, including the Beau Rivage and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, took the rare step of closing early as the storm moved in. Areas from the central Gulf Coast into the Southeast could get 3 to 6 inches of rain - with isolated areas getting up to 10 inches. About 2,000 people were affected.

Louisiana officials declared a state of emergency and ordered some people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands ahead of its expected landfall early Sunday, and evacuations began at some offshore oil platforms in the Gulf. It could hit the U.S. Gulf coast near New Orleans.

The storm is expected to move north-northwest through Saturday before turning north and northeast Saturday night and Sunday.

Nate is expected to make landfall on Saturday night U.S. time, and many parts of the southeastern state have been declared emergency zones. Then, the storm is expected to pass over portions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee over the next 24 hours. It was moving north at 20 miles per hour. A 7 PM curfew remains in effect for the metropolitan area of New Orleans.

For our neck of the woods, Nate will essentially be a big fast-moving blob of rain, with 1-3 inches across the area, locally more, especially where upslope easterly to southeasterly winds may bank Atlantic moisture against the mountains (the Blue Ridge south of Roanoke commonly is one such zone). Nate became a category 1 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico early Friday.

"When you think about the fact that some of our kids are going through holy hell just to go to school every day you understand why we as Democrats do what we do", Richmond said.

Jackson County in coastal MS enacted a curfew that began at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET), several hours before the powerful northeastern side of the core is expected to arrive. Have batteries. Have water.

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