Tropical storm Nate blamed for at least 22 deaths; Landfall expe - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Tropical storm Nate blamed for at least 22 deaths; Landfall expected on SE states

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MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) - Tropical Storm Nate roared toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula after drenching Central America in rain that was blamed for at least 22 deaths, and forecasters said it could reach the U.S. Gulf Coast as a hurricane over the weekend.

Louisiana officials declared a state of emergency and ordered some people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands ahead of its expected landfall early Sunday, and evacuations began at some offshore oil platforms in the Gulf.

Tropical Storm Nate has emerged into the northwest Caribbean off the Nicaragua coast and is forecast to strengthen.
    
Late Thursday evening, Tropical Storm Nate is about to move off the coast of northeastern Honduras over the warm waters of the Northwest Caribbean. Maximum sustained winds remain near 40 mph. Nate weakened slightly while being over land Thursday. But, it will move north of Honduras and offshore late Thursday night.
    
Nate continues to produce flooding rain across central America. Winds are gusting past 40 mph in a small area near the coast of eastern Honduras and northeastern Nicaragua. But, Nate is expected to strengthen tonight as it moves into the open waters of the northwestern Caribbean.

The water is extremely warm, so restrengthening is expected. Over the next few days, the only inhibitor to significant strengthening will be interaction with land and moderate shear in the Gulf of Mexico.
    
Heavy rain and flooding are likely in parts of Central America over the next few days as this system moves northwest. Damaging wind and flooding rain will likely impact the resort area of Cancun and Cozumel and surrounding areas in the Yucatan Peninsula.
    
This system will move into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. Indications are that it will continue to strengthen and reach hurricane strength. An upper-level low over Mexico will help steer this system northward. Areas from western Louisiana to the Florida panhandle have a threat for direct impacts of storm surge, damaging winds, and flooding rain. All interests along the Gulf Coast should closely monitor this feature.
    
Elsewhere, gusty winds and rain continue to pound Florida. Rainfall has topped 5 inches in parts of South Florida since Monday. There is a weak surface low west of the Keys. Despite the low pressure being quite weak, the difference in pressure between it and strong high pressure to the north has brought days of strong east winds to the Florida coast.

Winds continued to gust 30-40 mph Thursday evening. Very high surf will continue to lead to beach erosion and coastal flooding. The moon is tonight, enhancing the flooding risk at high tide. The wind across Florida should lessen late Thursday night and Friday.
    
There are no other areas of concern for tropical development across the Atlantic Basin.
    
By AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel and updated by Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston
    
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Copyright 2017 AccuWeather

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