Nate heads for Mexico, at least 22 dead in Central America

October 06, 2017

THE WEATHER NETWORK–Tropical Storm Nate took aim at Caribbean resorts on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on Friday on its way to the U.S. Gulf Coast where it could strike as a hurricane this weekend after killing at least 22 people in Central America.

Nate was blowing maximum sustained winds of 72 km/h (45 mph) and was about 370 km (230 miles) southeast of the Mexican holiday resort island of Cozumel early on Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm is expected to reach the eastern edge of the Yucatan peninsula, home to popular vacation destinations such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen, on Friday evening, the NHC said.

Nate will likely strengthen to a hurricane by the time it hits the northern Gulf of Mexico, it added. Oil and natural gas producers began evacuating staff at U.S. Gulf of Mexico platforms on Thursday.

The storm doused Central America with heavy rains on Thursday, killing at least 11 people in Nicaragua, eight in Costa Rica, two in Honduras and one in El Salvador, local authorities said.

Houses damaged by a mudslide are seen during heavy rains of Tropical Storm Nate that affects the country in San Jose, Costa Rica October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes and Costa Rica's government declared a state of emergency, closing schools and all other non-essential services.

Nate is predicted to become a Category 1 hurricane, the weakest category on a five-level scale used by meteorologists, by the time it hits the U.S. Gulf Coast on Sunday.

U.S. officials from Florida to Texas told residents on Thursday to prepare for the storm.

A state of emergency was declared for 29 Florida counties and the city of New Orleans, devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The NHC has issued a hurricane watch from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Maurepas.

Nate is expected to produce 150-250 mm (6-10 inches) of rain in parts of Honduras and Nicaragua, 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) of rain in eastern Yucatan and western Cuba and 80-150 mm (3-6 inches) of rain in the U.S. central Gulf Coast.

On Friday morning, the storm was moving northwest at 23 km/h (14 mph).

Photos of Nate's destruction below:

People look at a street collapsed by the Tiribi river flooded by heavy rains from Tropical Storm Nate in San Jose, Costa Rica October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

People look at the Tiribi river flooded after heavy rains by Tropical Storm Nate in San Jose, Costa Rica October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

Residents look at a road partially collapsed following heavy rains of Tropical Storm Nate that affects the country in El Llano de Alajuelita, Costa Rica, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

People walk on a pedestrian bridge collapsed by heavy rains of Tropical Storm Nate that affects the country in Alajuelita, Costa Rica October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

A resident watches the rising waves in Masachapa beach during heavy rains due to Tropical Storm Nate in the city of Masachapa, about 60km from the city of Managua on October 5, 2017. A tropical storm sliding north along Central America Thursday has unleashed heavy rains killing at least nine people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with forecasters predicting it could strengthen into a hurricane headed for the United States. AFP PHOTO/INTI OCON

A van drives past fallen trees, blown down by strong winds and rainfall caused by tropical storm Nate in Cartago, 25 kilometres East of San Jose on October 5, 2017. Costa Rica is under a National Emergency decree due to heavy rains and winds that already left two dead and 6 dissapeared, while several roads and bridges were damaged, and rockslides blocked access to some villages. AFP PHOTO/EzequielBECERRA

Workers clear rubble from a road following the passage of Tropical Storm Nate in the city of El Crucero, about 20km from the city of Managua on October 5, 2017. A tropical storm sliding north along Central America Thursday has unleashed heavy rains killing at least nine people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with forecasters predicting it could strengthen into a hurricane headed for the United States. AFP PHOTO/INTI OCON

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