Tropical Storm Nate targets Gulf Coast

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NOAA's National Hurricane Center issued a Public Advisory due to Tropical Storm Nate that is expected to become Hurricane Nate before making landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Further inland over the western 2/3 of the state, sustained tropical storm force winds of 35-45 miles per hour with gusts to 60mph are forecasted as far north as the Birmingham/Gadsden region.

The tropical storm comes on the heels of three destructive and deadly hurricanes in one of the worst hurricane seasons in recent years.

Nate is expected to gain strength as it churns through the Gulf of Mexico. "Nate will then move into the southern Gulf of Mexico Friday night and approach the northern Gulf coast Saturday evening".

A "life-threatening" storm surge warning was issued for an area from Morgan City, La., to the Alabama-Florida border and for the northern and western shores of Lake Pontchartrain.

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The storm doused Central America with heavy rains on Thursday, killing at least 13 people in Nicaragua, nine in Costa Rica, two in Honduras and two in El Salvador, local authorities said.

Louisiana and MS officials declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, and the towns of Jean Lafitte and Grand Isle have ordered mandatory evacuations.

USA states in the Gulf of Mexico are again on a state of alert as Hurricane Nate heads towards them.

Late Friday night, an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft penetrated the center of the storm and reported hurricane force winds.

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While the Tampa Bay area is far out of the path of the storm, Nate is expected to bring high surfs and a heightened risk of rip currents this weekend in the area, according to WTSP meteorologist Grant Gilmore. New Orleans officials outlined steps to bolster the city's pump and drainage system, weaknesses in which were revealed during summer flash floods.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared a state of emergency overnight and advised residents to stay put over the weekend.

States of emergency were declared in Alabama and Louisiana. Forecasters say some more strengthening is possible before Nate makes landfall.

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