Tropical Storm Nate could bring North Carolina needed rain without damaging winds or floods late Sunday and early next week, but forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say the storm first will hit the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coasts and probably as a hurricane.
A hurricane warning was posted Friday for the Gulf of Mexico coast of the U.S. from Grand Isle, La., east to the Alabama-Florida border.
A tropical storm warning is posted for New Orleans and Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas in Louisiana
In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency.
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The wet storm, blamed for 22 deaths in Central America, is expected to strike the Louisiana coast over the weekend but could still produce heavy rain and storm surge in the Florida Panhandle.
As of Friday, forecasters at the weather service’s Raleigh office said, computer models agreed fairly well that the storm will make landfall in the U.S. somewhere between eastern Louisiana and the western tip of Florida’s panhandle on Sunday morning, then start chugging up through the South in a weakened form.
The main body of Nate is likely to go west of the Appalachians, the Raleigh office said, but central North Carolina likely will get watered through Tuesday.
“Tropical moisture will move into central N.C. and provide some much-needed rainfall to the area,” the Raleigh office said.
“Right now, it looks like we could see 1/2" - 1 1/2" across our area,” ABC11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker said.
Nate, or what’s left of it, will be far enough west that wind is unlikely to be a problem, the forecasters said.
At midday Friday, Nate’s center was moving at about 21 mph toward the Yucatan Peninsula, 50 percent faster than earlier in the day.
In addition to the hurricane alerts, the weather service is warning of storm surges on the coast from Morgan City, La., to the Alabama-Florida line and for the northern and western shores of Lake Pontchartrain.
The storm has been hitting hard in several Central American countries.