Hurricane Nate upgraded to Category 1, churning toward Gulf of M - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Hurricane Nate upgraded to Category 1, churning toward Gulf of Mexico

Forecasters said Hurricane Nate will make landfall on the Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm. (Source: NHC) Forecasters said Hurricane Nate will make landfall on the Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm. (Source: NHC)
The rain effects of Nate will be felt far inland. (Source: NHC) The rain effects of Nate will be felt far inland. (Source: NHC)

(RNN) - Hurricane Nate is booking toward the central Gulf of Mexico as a Category 1 storm early Saturday morning.

As of the 1 a.m. CT advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Nate was packing maximum-sustained winds of 80 mph as it churned 95 miles west-northwest of the western tip of Cuba, moving to the north-northwest at 22 mph. Nate is now 420 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft penetrated the center of Nate and reported hurricane-force winds late Friday night.

In addition to warnings for Mexico, portions of the Gulf Coast were placed under watches and warnings ahead of the hurricane.

A hurricane warning has been issued for metropolitan New Orleans. A hurricane warning has been issued from Grand Isle, LA, to the Alabama/Florida border. 

A storm surge warning is in effect from Morgan City, LA, east to the Alabama-Mississippi state line, including the northern and western coasts of Lake Pontchartrain.

A hurricane watch is in effect from the Mississippi-Alabama state line to the Okaloosa-Walton County line in Florida.

A tropical storm watch is in effect east of the Okaloosa/Walton County Line to Indian Pass, FL.

Nate is expected to bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, rough surf and storm surge to the Gulf Coast, making landfall by Saturday night.

The storm may bring surges of up to 8 feet to the warned area, with the deepest water taking place along the immediate coast near and to the east of wherever landfall occurs, with strong waves added to the mix. Surge-related flooding will depend on whether the area is experiencing low or high tide at landfall.

Forecasters said the tropical storm should keep moving to the north-northwest quickly through late Saturday. After that, it will turn north, then turn north-northeast Sunday.

Nate has been blamed for 22 deaths in Central America, the Associated Press said on Thursday. 

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

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have left more than 170 people dead and caused billions in damage to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Barbuda and other Caribbean islands.

Copyright 2017 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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