Tropical Storm Nate: Path of storm prompts hurricane warnings along Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Watch issued for Alabama's Gulf Coast; Prater says Central AL will be impacted this weekend

Nate expected to become hurricane; Tampa Bay at heightened risk of rip currents

A hurricane warning has been issued from Grand Isle, LA, to the Alabama/Florida border. Wind gusts could reach as high as 40-50 mph.

Blowing maximum sustained winds of 65 km/h, Nate was expected to move across eastern Honduras on Thursday local time and enter the northwestern Caribbean Sea through the night.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered a mandatory evacuation in the Venetian Isles and the Irish Bayou which stand outside the city's levee protection system. A state of emergency has been declared in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana in advance of the storm.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for most of the viewing area including Southern Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, St. John, St. Charles, Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes as well as all of coastal Mississippi.

At 5 a.m. the center of Tropical Storm Nate was located 275 miles south-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico near latitude 16.9 North, longitude 85.1 West.

Five major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) have formed in the Atlantic this season.

Cuba also issued tropical storm watches and warnings for some provinces. The Wiregrass area will start to see the effects of Nate late Saturday evening.

Storm heads north up Mexico's coast. Some strengthening is forecast by the National Hurricane Center before Nate crosses the coast late tonight. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has significantly shifted the cone slightly to the east since Nate has moved more towards the north than the northwest overnight. Winds are up to 90 mph.

The governor, Carlos Joaquin, said that although the worst of the storm was expected to pass just east of the peninsula it could still bring torrential rains and flooding.

The storm has already unleashed heavy rain and flooding over parts of Central America, where several people have died.

"On the dry side of the storm we are expecting one to three inches of rainfall", he explained.

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