Tropical Storm Nate seems to be intensifying before it hits New Orleans on late Saturday or early Sunday. The increase in speed is projected to continue until it hits the Louisiana city.
“Nate gained force as it sped toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Friday after drenching Central America in rain that was blamed for at least 21 deaths. Forecasters reported winds of up to 60 mph as of 4 p.m. Friday, and predicted strengthening as it approaches the Gulf Coast,” reported the New Orleans Advocate.
The city of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain are under a hurricane warning. So is much of the Gulf Coast. The coast is expected to start feeling the effects of the storm by Saturday evening.
Yesterday, Louisiana and Mississippi declared states of emergency. Since then, the towns of Jean Lafitte and Grand Isle—both coastal towns—have ordered mandatory evacuations.
The cities of Gretna and New Orleans have followed their example. Their mayors instituted curfews ahead of the storm.
New Orleans is especially concerned because of their water drainage system. 108 of the cities 120 pumps are up and running, but that might still not be enough.
“We're not where we want to be with our pumping capacity, but we're better than we were,” said New Orleans Councilman Jason Williams.
While Nate is only expected to make landfall as a Category 1 Hurricane, Gov. John Bel Edwards reminds people not to underestimate it. The U.S. National Hurricane Center has warned that Nate could raise sea levels by 4 to 7 feet. This warning covers Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border.
The warning isn’t ill founded. Nate—as a tropical storm—has already caused deadly flooding Central America. It had already had caused deadly flooding in much of Central America.
In Nicaragua, Nate dumped water on top of the water that had accrued after two weeks of near-constant rain. That rain had left the ground “saturated” and the rivers “swollen.”
The whole country is on alert for flooding and landslides. Eleven people have already died in the country as a result of the storm.
Nicaragua's vice president and spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo, didn't give details on all the deaths. However, she did say that “two women and a man who worked for the Health Ministry were swept away by a flooded canal in the central municipality of Juigalpa.”
Another seven deaths have happened in Costa Rica and three in Honduras.
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