Hurricane Nate weakens as it reaches United States

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Monday, October 9, 2017

After killing 30 people on a rampage through Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua and dumping rain on the Yucatan in Mexico, Hurricane Nate reached the U.S. states of Louisiana and Mississippi on the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday night. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) downgraded Nate to a tropical storm on Sunday morning. A state of emergency was declared parts of Louisiana, which saw damage from the significantly more intense Hurricane Harvey earlier this year; Alabama; Florida; and Mississippi.

Nate made its first U.S. landfall on Saturday night, bringing winds of 85 miles per hour (134 kph) and considerable storm surge to the mouth of the Mississippi River. By Sunday morning, these had declined to 35 miles per hour (56 kph). Tens of thousands of households in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana were without power.

In contrast, when Nate made its way across Latin America, dozens of people died. Some 400,000 Costa Ricans lost access to safe drinking water. All train travel and a great deal of air travel halted, and many national parks closed. Landslides trapped travelers in a dangerous road segment nicknamed "the Mountain of Death" on the Inter-American Highway, and the high water of the Tárcoles River raised concerns about crocodile attacks.

"We were well aware that this could've been a much more serious storm. There was talk of it being a Category 2 with an 11-feet tidal surge when it came ashore. It did not — happily — it did not live up to that billing," said Vincent Creel, public affairs manager for Biloxi, Mississippi, near which Nate made its second U.S. landfall.

The storm had been expected to move further west, and some evacuations were recommended in the New Orleans area in preparation. Many of the ports on the U.S. Gulf Coast were closed to shipping. In one way, Nate is having a more pronounced effect than Harvey: production of oil and natural gas is a fraction of normal levels as workers evacuated oil rigs and platforms.

Hurricane Nate swelled the Tárcoles River, leaving residents concerned about attacks from the American crocodile.
Image: Michelle Reback.

The NHC forecast the storm to continue north and east, losing intensity as it moves inland.

"Our great team at FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] is prepared for #HurricaneNate. Everyone in LA [Lousiana], MS [Mississippi], AL [Alabama] and FL [Florida] please listen to your local authorities and be safe!" tweeted President Donald Trump.

This is the fourth major hurricane to hit U.S. territory since summer, after Harvey, Irma, and Maria.


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