Hurricane Nate downgraded to tropical storm after making landfall in Mississippi

UNITED STATES (NBC News) - Nate weakened to a tropical storm early Sunday after making landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi, as a Category 1 hurricane that could cause life-threatening storm surges and flooding, forecasters said.

Nate had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph as of 7 a.m. ET. It made a second landfall in Mississippi at around 1:30 a.m. ET, hours after it made a first landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane warnings for the mouth of the Pearl River on the Louisiana-Mississippi border to the Alabama-Florida border were discontinued, although storm surge warnings were in place for the area, the hurricane center said. The storm was moving north-northeast at 23 mph, which some hoped could minimize the damage.

"We prepared for a bad storm, and hopefully we'll skate through this without a tremendous amount of hurting for people and property," Biloxi Mayor Andrew Gilich said in a telephone interview on MSNBC Saturday night.

As of 9:30 a.m., 33,344 customers in Mississippi were still without power, according to power companies across the state.

Hurricane warnings for New Orleans, which had prompted a curfew in the city, were downgraded to tropical storm warnings and the curfew was lifted.

Officials had warned of potentially dangerous storm surges of 7 to 11 feet in some places on the Mississippi coast, and surges of 6 to 9 feet in a stretch of coast that includes Mobile Bay.

Alabama Power said that 71,000 customers were without power across the state as of 8 a.m. local time. On Dauphin Island near Mobile, authorities said late Saturday that over 4 feet of water and debris was covering a road and power lines were down.

In Mobile, four shelters were opened and Saturday night around 120 people went there to wait out the storm, Mobile Fire-Rescue public information officer Steve Huffman said on MSNBC.

In New Orleans, Tulane University, which had a total enrollment of more than 13,000 in the 2016-2017 year, closed its campus to everyone but on-campus students and essential personnel. Although the hurricane warnings were downgraded to tropical storm warnings for the city, New Orleans recommended that "people shelter in place and use caution" due to high winds.

The storm had been expected to quickly weaken and become a tropical storm Sunday morning. After landfall in Mississippi, Nate is forecast to move into the Tennessee Valley and Appalachian Mountains through Monday.

The storm has already been blamed for deaths in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras, officials said. Sixteen people were reported dead in Nicaragua, 10 deaths were reported in Costa Rica and one death was reported in Honduras, officials said.


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