Nate upgraded to Category 1 hurricane, takes aim at US Gulf Coast

ATLANTA — Tropical Storm Nate was upgraded Friday at 11:30 p.m. ET to a Category 1 hurricane with estimated maximum winds of 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center announced.

The counties included in the watch are: Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dade, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fannin, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Lumpkin, Murray, North Fulton, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, South Fulton, Towns, Troup, Union, Walker, White and Whitfield.

Northern Georgia could feel the impacts of Nate this weekend, hitting as early as late Sunday morning.

Louisiana and Mississippi officials declared states of state of emergency and Louisiana ordered some people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands ahead of its expected landfall Saturday night or early Sunday. Evacuations began at some offshore oil platforms in the Gulf.

Severe Weather Team 2 is tracking the storm throughout the evening on Channel 2 Action News.  

Mississippi's government said it would open 11 evacuation shelters in areas away from the immediate coast, with buses available for people who can't drive.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that Nate could raise sea levels by 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 meters) from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border. It had already had caused deadly flooding in much of Central America.

The storm is currently off the coast of Mexico, just north of Cozumel, with sustained winds of 70 mph and gusts around 85 mph, and is traveling about 22 mph to the north-northwest.

Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns said the storm’s quick moving pace is a good sign.

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“I like that fast, forward speed because it means conditions here in north Georgia will not last much longer than an afternoon,” Burns said.

The current project path has Nate making landfall somewhere between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama around 1 a.m. Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane.

“None of our computer models are suggesting that it’s going to become a hurricane but the hurricane center says one of theirs shows a rapid intensification just before landfall,” Burns said.

The storm will move across Alabama and eventually into north Georgia.

“As soon as Sunday morning, we could start to feel some of that rain here in north Georgia,” Burns said.

By the afternoon winds will have picked up across north Georgia, with sustained winds between 20-30 mph. Burns said some areas in northwest Georgia could see gusts of 40-45 mph.

Severe Weather Team 2 says to be alert for possible isolated brief spin-up tornadoes on Sunday.

Burns said parts of the metro area could see 1-2 inches of rain. Areas in far northwest Georgia could see up to 4 inches of rain.

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