Nate Weakens to Tropical Storm, Takes Aim at Alabama

Nate Weakens to Tropical Storm, Takes Aim at Alabama”

Although not as strong as last month's Maria and Irma, Nate is expected to bring strong winds and storm surges.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Nate's maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 45 miles per hour (75 kph) with higher gusts.

Hurricane warnings were in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana, east to the Alabama-Florida border.

He still recommends people shelter in place because of the tropical storm-force winds. About 144,000 utility customers in the US may lose power, based on a forecast model developed by university researchers.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said Mississippi Power and the state's electric power associations reported a total of about 48,000 customers without power early Sunday.

Nate's center will make landfall on the MS coast within the next hour or two, according to the hurricane center's advisory issued at 10 p.m. CT (11 p.m. ET).

Water kept going several blocks deep into the area.

Thousands were without power in southern Mississippi.

The storm first made landfall in southeastern Louisana, near the Mississippi River's mouth, and again near Biloxi, Mississippi before weakening into a tropical storm, according to the New York Times.

In Alabama, Dauphin Island had "significant salt water flooding", Mayor Jeff Collier told CNN early Sunday. Before then storm surges of up to 11 feet (3.4 m) on the Mississippi-Alabama border were possible, the NHC said.

However, he cautioned that he still expects the storm to be a tropical storm with 40 miles per hour winds before eventually being downgraded to a tropical depression.

About one-fifth of USA oil is produced in the Gulf.

The storm will be the third hurricane to hit the continental US, the first time that's happened since Gustav, Dolly and Ike struck in 2008, said Phil Klotzbach, hurricane researcher at Colorado State University.

Nate may cause as much as $4 billion of damage and economic losses across an area of the Gulf Coast dotted with casinos and resorts, said Chuck Watson, a damage modeler with Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia.

There have been no reports so far of Nate causing injuries or major damage to homes in the city, according to Biloxi's public affairs manager, Vincent Creel.

New Orleans: Tropical Storm Nate rapidly weakened as it moved over Alabama on Sunday, although the fast-moving former hurricane rattled the doors of Biloxi's casinos and left gambling floors and highways in the region flooded after making its landfall in Mississippi.

"After landfall, the center of Nate is expected to pass over portions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee late tonight through Sunday night", according to the National Hurricane Center's advisory issued late Saturday.

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