Tropical Storm Nate Forecast to Hit New Orleans as Hurricane On Sunday
Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center named the 14th tropical storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Tropical Storm Nate. And there's near certainty that Nate will be yet another tropical system that makes landfall on the US this hurricane season.
Currently over northeast Nicaragua, Tropical Storm Nate is expected to emerge over the Caribbean Sea late Thursday and continue to organize before striking the Yucatan Peninsula Friday night at nearly hurricane strength. Tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches have been issued for Yucatan ahead of its pending landfall.
But, it's when Tropical Storm Nate hits the warm Gulf of Mexico that the US Gulf Coast needs to worry about. Current forecasts call for Tropical Storm Nate to develop into a hurricane and strike New Orleans early Sunday morning.
Considering the incredible northward movement of the storm just before hitting the coast, there will likely be significant differences between the east side of the storm and the west side. The forward movement will intensify the effects of the circulation to the east, causing stronger winds and higher storm surge.
The good news is that forecasts predict Nate will be only a Category 1 Hurricane at the time of landfall, with top sustained winds of 80 mph. Combining that with the rapid forward movement, thankfully the storm will not have a chance to dump rain over a prolonged period of time, as Hurricane Harvey did in Texas.
That said, the longer Nate stays over the warm waters of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, the more it's going to strengthen. So, just a slight eastward shift could keep it off of the Yucatan Peninsula and lead to a stronger storm.
For now, Gulf Coast residents shouldn't freak out. The National Hurricane Center's advice is that "residents along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana through the Florida Panhandle should monitor the progress of Nate and heed any advice given by local officials."