Hurricane Nate picking up speed as it heads toward Gulf Coast

Hurricane Nate picking up speed as it heads toward Gulf Coast”

Tropical Storm Nate swept ashore in MS on Sunday with strong winds rattling the doors of Biloxi's many casinos and lashing rain flooding the gambling floors and surrounding highways, although the fast-moving former hurricane was expected to rapidly weaken as it moved inland.

The storm has gained speed and power as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico, with meteorologists forecasting it will hit the southeastern USA between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

The storm is gathering strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

"Once Nate gets onshore there will be a risk of tornadoes all the way across the Gulf Coast to the Florida Panhandle". About $1 billion of that would be insured loss. The three alone have caused an estimated $170 billion in damage in the USA, according to Enki Research.

People gamble at a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. "Damage will be concentrated right on the Gulf Coast of MS and Alabama".

In its 4:00 a.m. CT update, the National Hurricane Center said a storm surge warning was in effect from eastern Louisiana all the way to parts of Florida east of Pensacola.

The storm, a Category One hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, with winds swirling at around 90 miles (150 kilometers) per hour, could strengthen into a Category Two before making landfall, the NHC said.

Hurricane Nate came ashore on a sparsely populated area at the mouth of the Mississippi River and closed in on Mississippi, pelting the central Gulf Coast region with strong winds and heavy rains.

Alabama Power Co. said about 59,000 customers lost their electricity in the state. Oil and natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were shut down in advance while gas output in the region slid to a three-year low.

New Orleans officials outlined steps to bolster the city's pump and drainage system.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (128.74 kph) and was likely to strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico, reaching the U.S. Gulf coast near New Orleans late Saturday, according to the hurricane centre's 4 a.m. CDT update. Roughly 45 percent of petroleum refining capacity is on the coast.

Phillips 66's 247,000-barrel-per day Alliance refinery and Valero's 125,000 bpd Meraux refinery, both in Louisiana, were reported undamaged after the passage of Nate, according to sources familiar with their operations.

Alabama cotton crops could be among those affected by Hurricane Nate.

The National Hurricane Center predicted that "Nate's center will continue to move inland across the Deep South, Tennessee Valley, and central Appalachian Mountains through Monday". That's "definitely" doing damage to cotton there and slowing harvesting, said Donald Keeney, a senior meteorologist with MDA Weather Services.

At Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, the Air Force Reserve's 403rd Wing announced it would relocate aircraft to bases in Texas and Arkansas because of the storm, according to an announcement made Friday afternoon.

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