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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Tropical Storm Nate is nearing hurricane strength as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico.

At 11 p.m., the center of the storm was about 100 miles west-northwest of the western tip of Cuba.

Nate was moving to the north-northwest at 21 mph with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph with higher gusts. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles mainly to the east of the center.

Nate is moving toward the north-northwest near 22 mph (35 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through late Saturday.

A turn toward the north is forecast Saturday night, followed by a turn toward north-northeast on Sunday.

On the forecast track, the center of Nate will move across the Gulf of Mexico overnight and on Saturday, and will make landfall along the central U.S. Gulf coast Saturday evening or Saturday night.

Additional strengthening is expected through Saturday up until the time Nate makes landfall along the northern Gulf coast.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Grand Isle Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border
* Metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* Morgan City Louisiana to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line Florida
* Northern and western shores of Lake Pontchartrain

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos Mexico
* Pinar del Rio Cuba
* Lake Maurepas
* West of Grand Isle to Morgan City Louisiana
* East of the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Lake Maurepas
* East of the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line
* West of Grand Isle to Morgan City Louisiana

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* East of the the Okaloosa/Walton County Line to Indian Pass Florida

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* East of the Okaloosa/Walton County Line to Indian Pass Florida
* West of Morgan City to Intracoastal City Louisiana
* Isle of Youth Cuba

Nate is expected to produce the following rain accumulations through Monday:

  • Eastern Yucatan and western Cuba: 2 to 4 inches, max 6 inches.
  • Eastern Belize and the Cayman Islands: 1 to 3 inches.
  • East of the Mississippi River from the central Gulf Coast into the Deep South, eastern Tennessee Valley, and southern Appalachians:3 to 6 inches, max 10 inches.
  • Across the lower Ohio Valley into the central Appalachians:2 to 4 inches, max 6 inches.

Rainfall across all of these areas may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

In the United States, the combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.  The water is expected to reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide.

Morgan City, Louisiana to the mouth of the Mississippi River…4 to 6 ft

Mouth of the Mississippi River to the Alabama/Florida border…5 to 8 ft

Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line…4 to 6 ft

Okaloosa/Walton County Line to Indian Pass, Florida…2 to 4 ft

Indian Pass to Crystal River, Florida…1 to 3 ft

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