After bringing deadly flooding to Central America, Tropical Storm Nate is headed to the Yucatan Peninsula and the U.S. Gulf Coast, with a landfall in Louisiana likely.
According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Nate is currently about 230 miles south-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. A tropical storm warning is in effect for an area ranging from Punta Castilla, Honduras, to the Honduras / Nicaragua border, as well as an area ranging from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico. A hurricane watch is in effect for an area ranging from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi / Alabama border; metropolitan New Orleans; Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas; and an area ranging from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico. A tropical storm watch is also in effect for an area ranging from the Mississippi / Alabama border to the Okaloosa / Walton County line, as well as an area west of Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana.
Tropical Storm Nate is expected to reach the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula early this evening, before moving into the southern Gulf of Mexico tonight and approaching the northern Gulf Coast early Saturday evening. The storm’s maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph, but it is expected to strengthen over the next couple of days, becoming a hurricane by the time it reaches the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Reuters reports that the storm has already killed at least 22 people in Central America, as lashing rain has brought deadly flooding to the region. At least 11 people died in Nicaragua, where seven are also missing and thousands have had to evacuate their homes. At least eight people were killed in Costa Rica and more than 7,000 have been forced to take refuge in shelters. Two people drowned in Honduras, while another was killed in a mud slide in El Salvador. The government of Costa Rica has declared a state of emergency, with all non-essential services shut down.
The U.S. Gulf Coast is preparing for the storm’s potential landfall as a hurricane. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency, ABC News reports, with 1,300 National Guard troops mobilized, 15 of whom will head to New Orleans to monitor the city’s fragile pumping system. Forecasts call for the storm to make landfall in southeast Louisiana Sunday morning, and Edwards is urging those in the state to be where they intend to ride out the storm by “dark on Saturday.” Florida Governor Rick Scott has also declared a state of emergency for 29 counties in the state.
More airlines have begun to issue flight waivers as a result of Tropical Storm Nate.
American Airlines customers scheduled to travel through Mexico and Costa Rica through October 7 can rebook through October 9, while customers flying though Gulf Coast airports through October 9 can rebook through October 15. In both cases customers must fly between the same city pair in the same cabin (or pay the difference).
United Airlines is allowing customers scheduled to fly through Cancun through October 6 to rebook through October 9; customers scheduled to fly through Costa Rica through October 8 to rebook through October 15; and customers scheduled to fly through Gulf Coast airports through October 9 to rebook through October 15. In all cases rebooked travel must be in the originally ticketed cabin between the same city pair.
Delta is allowing customers who were scheduled to fly through Costa Rica through October 6 to rebook through October 9, with the new ticket to be reissued on or before that date.
Southwest Airlines is expecting service to be disrupted through the following airports through the following dates:
- Cancun, Mexico – October 7
- Liberia, Costa Rica – October 6
- New Orleans – October 7 – 8
- San Jose, Costa Rica – October 6
Customers can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of travel between the same city pair.
JetBlue customers scheduled to fly through New Orleans October 7 – 8 can rebook through October 11.