by Mark Albert
(TVR) – Hurricane Nate made landfall on the vulnerable U.S. Gulf Coast Saturday evening as a category one storm, forcing at least one airport to close, flights to be cancelled, cruise ships to divert, and residents to evacuate.
The eye of the storm came ashore near the mouth of the Mississippi River; it is expected to turn north to northeast overnight, moving at a relatively speedy 20mph.
The Pensacola International Airport (PNS) closed Saturday at 6pm and may not reopen until Monday, the airport authority said, while Delta and other airlines cancelled flights and extended severe weather waivers to allow free itinerary changes.
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama declared states of emergency, with mandatory evacuations for parts of Louisiana, including Lafitte, Barataria, and Crown Point.
The National Hurricane Center warned of “destructive waves,” “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” “heavy rainfall,” and potential flash flooding.
Maximum flooding of seven to 11 feet above sea level “is expected,” the NHC said.
Hurricane Warnings are in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu urged residents to do “all they can” to “protect yourself.”
“We just need to be ready,” he said.
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