Hurricane Nate is moving rapidly toward the northern Gulf of Mexico coast on Saturday morning, likely making landfall tonight in extreme southeastern Louisiana and the Mississippi coast. Probably the biggest concern is the potential for storm surge.
Nate shot the gap between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba on Friday, allowing its center to remain over water, and it is now taking advantage of low wind shear to intensify. Nate had 85-mph winds as of 7am Saturday morning, and could strengthen further before landfall. Reconnaissance aircraft show Nate to be a lopsided system, with all of its significant winds on the east side of the storm. With that in mind, here is a look at the storm’s principal threats.
Winds and surge
Along the current forecast track, the greatest threat for hurricane force winds is along the coast, and on the west side of the storm.
Because of these winds, some significant storm surge flooding is likely along portions of the northern Gulf Coast, and a storm surge warning is in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa/Walton county line in Florida. Residents in these areas should heed any evacuation instructions given by local officials as water levels may be 5 to 10 feet above normal tides.
Due to the rapid movement of Nate, to the north-northwest at 22mph, rain accumulations from the storm are a lesser concern. Some inland flooding is possible in southern Alabama and Mississippi, but for the most part storm totals should be manageable. Here is the rainfall total forecast from the National Hurricane Center:
As we have been suggesting for some time, Nate is not at all a threat to Texas, including the Houston area. Effects here will be minimal, with some minor coastal flooding possible Saturday due to higher tides and longer running waves. There will be a chance of scattered rain showers this afternoon, but nothing we need be too concerned about. Sunday and Monday will be warm and sunny.