Hurricane Nate crashed ashore near the mouth of the Mississippi River on the Louisiana coast Saturday night, the latest in an unusually ferocious storm season that's racked up billions in damages.
With top winds of 85 miles per hour, Nate was headed north at 20 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. The warning for New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain has been changed to a tropical storm warning. A hurricane warning remained in place for Grand Isle Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border.
"There is going to be flooding and wind damage in New Orleans," said Bob Smerbeck, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pa. "Once Nate gets onshore there will be a risk of tornadoes all the way across the Gulf Coast to the Florida Panhandle."
Flooding and landslides caused by Nate have already killed at least 17 people across Costa Rica and Nicaragua and the storm is estimated to cause about $1 billion in damage. Oil and natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were shut down in advance while gas output in the region slid to a three-year low.
All told, 14 storms have formed across the Atlantic this season, killing hundreds in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean and causing an estimated $300 billion in damage. Accumulated cyclone energy, a measure of storm power and longevity, set a record in September. Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico at Category 4 strength while Hurricane Irma battered Florida with 130 mile per hour winds.
Including Nate, six storms will have hit the U.S. this year, said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the hurricane center.
Until Harvey struck Texas on Aug. 25, it had been 12 years since a major hurricane, Category 3 or stronger, had struck the U.S. Irma and then Maria followed. The three alone have caused an estimated $170 billion in damage in the U.S., according to Enki Research.
Harvey temporarily shut about 25 percent of oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. Irma subjected Florida's citrus groves to fruit losses that have wiped out some farmers.
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