A stronger Tropical Storm Nate sped toward the Gulf of Mexico on Friday afternoon and a Hurricane Warning was issued for the city of New Orleans. At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Nate was located at latitude 20.3°N and longitude 85.7°W which put it about 80 miles (125 km) east of Cozumel, Mexico and about 710 miles (1145 km) south-southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana. Nate was moving toward the north-northwest at 21 m.p.h. (33 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 993 mb.
A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida. A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle to Morgan City, Louisiana and from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line. A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect from Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Lousiana and from the Okaloosa/Walton County line to Indian Pass, Florida. A Hurricane Watch and a Tropical Storm Warning are in effect for the portion of the coast from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Pinar del Rio province in Cuba. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Isle of Youth province in Cuba.
The inner core of Tropical Storm Nate tightened up on Friday afternoon. A primary rainband wrapped about three quarters of the way around the center of circulation. There was an opening to the northeast of the center. The rainband could develop into an eyewall if it wraps completely around the center of circulation. Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms formed outside the core of Tropical Storm Nate. Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 125 miles (200 km) to the east of the center of circulation. The winds were weaker in the western half of the circulation. Thunderstorms near the core began to generate stronger upper level divergence which was pumping out mass and the surface pressure decreased on Friday afternoon.
Tropical Storm Nate will move through an environment favorable for intensification on Saturday. Nate will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C. An upper level low over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing southerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation but the vertical wind shear is not too strong. Tropical Storm Nate will become a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico. If an eyewall and an eye form, then Nate could have a period of rapid intensification.
The upper low over the western Gulf of Mexico and a ridge east of Florida are combining to steer Tropical Storm Nate toward the north-northwest and that general motion is expected to continue on Saturday. An upper level trough approaching from the west will turn Nate toward the northeast when it nears the U.S. On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Nate will pass near the northeastern end of the Yucatan peninsula and move into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday night. Nate will approach southeastern Louisiana and Central Gulf Coast on Saturday night.
Nate will be a hurricane when it nears the U.S. It will be capable of producing serious regional wind damage and power outages. Nate could cause a storm surge of 10-12 feet (3 to 4 meters) near where the center makes landfall. Nate could also drop locally heavy rain and cause fresh water flooding when it moves inland in the southern U.S.