Hurricane Nate Downgraded to Category 1

Tropical Storm Nate churns toward US landfall

The hurricane has continued to strengthen slightly, since becoming a hurricane Friday night, and now has sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, with higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning. It's moving north-northwest at 22 miles per hour. It could hit the U.S. Gulf coast near New Orleans.

The forecast track map shows landfall could be anywhere from southeast Louisiana to Alabama, but the target for now seems to be on the MS coast.

"It's going to hit and move through our area at a relatively fast rate, limiting the amount of time it's going to drop rain", Edwards said.

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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said 109 of its 120 pumps are functioning, which is 92 percent capacity.

But residents of the city known as the "Big Easy" were taking Nate in stride.

In New Orleans itself, the city's pumping system is still reeling from several heavy rain events over the summer, with 11 of the 109 city wide pumps still out of service as of earlier this week.

"There could be some minor coastal flooding because we could have some of the swell activities. Comes with the territory".

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction, most notably in Louisiana.

By Saturday afternoon, as Nate's outer band pelted sheets of rain on the city, residents had filled 13,000 sandbags at a fire hall on Elysian Fields Drive, just one of five such sandbag depots in the city.

"We're not anxious about it", said Hunt, as he and Ulloa organized jerry cans of gasoline to power a generator that will keep their fridges and an air conditioner running through the storm.

Across the Gulf Coast and up into the southern Appalachian mountains, Nate is forecast to produce 3 to 6 inches of rain, with up to 12 inches in isolated locations.

And Kay Ivey, Alabama's governor, said during a press conference Friday that the White House has promised its assistance adding, "It has become clear that Alabama, especially on our coast will experience some of the worst conditions from this storm".

BRYAN TARNOWSKI via Getty Images Firefighters are helping with the emergency preparation. Expect rainfall totals to exceed 10 inches in places.

Nate comes on the heels of three other major storms, Harvey, Irma and Maria, which devastated Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, respectively. Assuming Nate continues to travel as fast as it has been, it may not have enough time to further strengthen into a category 3 before it makes landfall.

"Since the system will be moving over very warm waters, we could quickly have a powerful hurricane on our hands", said AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.

Jonathan Bachman / Reuters Business owners board up their restaurant in the French Quarter.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who had declared a state of emergency in 29 counties, said Saturday that evacuation orders were in effect Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, with shelters open for those seeking higher ground.

"On the forecast track, the center of Nate will move near or over the northeastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula [Friday] evening", the NHC said.

Nate was still wreaking havoc in Central America, where heavy rains continued causing floods.

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