Tropical Storm Nate presents a new danger for the U.S. coast as it picks up strength in the Gulf of Mexico, killing more than 20 people in Central America.
The National Hurricane Center said Nate’s winds will gain strength from the current 50 mph as it moves north-northwest toward New Orleans.
A tropical storm warning was issued Friday morning for the city and other parts of coastal Louisiana. The Florida-Alabama border is also under a hurricane warning.
Nate is slated to become a hurricane by the time it makes landfall in the Big Easy on Sunday, NHS said.
That would make Nate the third hurricane this season to strike the continental U.S. after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida, respectively.
The tropical storm has already claimed 22 lives, dumping tremendous rain on Central America.
On Friday, Nate started making its way to the Yucatan Peninsula on Mexico’s east coast. It’s currently 115 miles northeast of Isla Guanaja, Honduras, and 230 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Gulf Coast states are forecast to get up to 12 inches of rain when the storm makes landfall. Officials warned the effects of Nate will start showing by Saturday, according to local reports.
Louisiana has declared a state of emergency, evacuating islands and coastal regions of the state.
The state’s National Guard has deployed more than a dozen troops to watch over New Orleans’ 120 drain pumps, the Times-Picayune reported Thursday.
“That’s one of the reasons we are sending national guardsmen down there so that we know all the pumps are being monitored in real time with communications. So that in the event that corrective action needs to be taken on those pumps, it can happen as soon as possible,” Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters Thursday.
Six of more than 700 manned platforms in the Gulf were evacuated by Thursday, Louisiana officials said. A portable drilling rig was moved out of Nate’s path, but no others had been evacuated.
In storm-ravaged Florida, Gov. Rick Scott ordered a state of emergency for 29 of the Sunshine State’s northern counties, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Nate isn’t expected to impact central Florida, parts of which were damaged when the powerful Hurricane Irma made landfall last month.