07 October 2017

Hurricane Nate racing toward landfall, bringing big storm surge concerns

Nate strengthened as it passed through the Yucatan Channel and was upgraded to the ninth hurricane of the season late Friday night.  As of Saturday's 5am EDT advisory, maximum sustained winds are 80mph and tropical storm force winds extend 115 miles from the center on the east side. Those TS-force winds will arrive on the coastline by mid-late afternoon, so all preparations and evacuations must be carefully rushed to completion.

Landfall is expected to occur late Saturday night near Biloxi, putting Gulfport, Mobile, New Orleans, and Pensacola also at risk for significant impacts.  It is moving rapidly to the north at 22mph so impacts such as storm surge will be much greater to the right/east of where it makes landfall... such as Mobile Bay which could see up to a 9-foot storm surge. Unfortunately, locations from Grand Isle LA to Panama City FL will have high tide around midnight, coinciding with landfall and peak storm surge... maximizing coastal inundation anywhere east of the landfall point.

Hurricane Nate could reach Category 2 intensity today, but if it takes full advantage of the hot Gulf water and low wind shear, it could even reach Category 3 intensity (115mph+). Long, updating radar loops from the Gulf coast are available at http://andrew.rsmas.miami.edu/bmcnoldy/tropics/radar/

Nate's incredible similarity to the infamous 1916 Gulf Coast Hurricane so far is haunting:

This is also now the first season to have 9+ hurricanes since 2012 (which had 10), and then before that there were 12 in 2010, 15 in 2005, etc.

Elsewhere, an area way out over the northeastern Atlantic, west of the Azores, could become a subtropical cyclone in the coming days, but is no threat to land.  The next name on the list is Ophelia.

Water vapor image of Invest 91L, a developing low pressure system southwest of the Azores.

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