(This article was last updated at 8:25 a.m. Sunday.)
Hurricane Nate made back-to-back landfalls Saturday evening and Sunday morning as it slammed into the northern Gulf Coast.
The Category 1 storm first made landfall at the mouth of the Mississippi River at 8 p.m. Saturday evening with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. Then at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Nate made a second landfall near Biloxi, Miss. at the same intensity. The storm was the first hurricane since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to come ashore in Mississippi.
Nate moved inland Sunday morning over Mississippi and Alabama and weakened to a tropical storm as it moved inland.
More than 100,000 residents in both states lost electricity after the storm’s arrival, according to the Associated Press. About 53,000 of them were in the Mobile, Ala., area.
At 8 a.m. Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said the storm was rapidly weakening, and packed peak winds of 45 mph, down from 85 mph just seven hour earlier. While winds were still decreasing, heavy rain covered much of the state of Alabama, where numerous flash flood warnings were in effect.
A significant storm surge or rise in ocean waters above normally dry land was still affecting the area from Mississippi-Alabama border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida, where a warning remained in effect. A surge of 3 to 3.5 feet was reported at Pensacola, Florida, and Mobile Bay, Alabama, the Hurricane Center said.
Nate will also be carrying a lot of moisture and promises to drop a large amount of rainfall, despite the fact that the storm is moving quite fast.
A widespread two to six inches of rain is expected to fall along its track through Sunday. Higher amounts are likely in spots. All of this rain will fall in under 24 hours, so flash flooding is a concern.
Because the storm is moving so fast, tropical-storm-force winds, which could down trees and cause power outages, may extend fairly far inland through much of Alabama. The National Hurricane Center predicts it could sustain tropical storm strength into Sunday afternoon, when it should move into Tennessee.
Both the “cone of uncertainty” for Nate’s future path and the rainfall forecast for the system include the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast as well. What’s left of Nate will pass west of Washington on Sunday, but we will still be close enough to shower the area with much-needed rain.
Earlier storm highlights
Through 1:30 a.m., the storm’s inner core or eyewall had moved ashore at the northern Gulf Coast. As the storm’s calm eye moved over Biloxi, Miss., winds were starting to temporarily wane but should pick back up some after it passes. Farther to the north and east, the storm’s core neared Mobile, Ala., where winds gusted to 51 mph.
Moments earlier, as the storm approached and crossed the Mississippi-Alabama coastline between 12 a.m. and 1 a.m. (11 p.m. and midnight central), tropical storm to nearly hurricane-force wind gusts were reported. At 12 a.m. (11 p.m. central), Biloxi reported a gust of 52 mph. A gust south of Gulfport reached 73 mph. The storm’s most severe effects focused a good bit east of New Orleans.
At 9 p.m. Saturday, an offshore wind sensor near the Louisiana coast reported a gust of nearly 90 mph (although the sensor was elevated almost 300 feet above the ground). When the storm made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River, just before 8 p.m., a nearby weather station clocked a gust at 74 mph.
From southeast Louisiana to the western Florida panhandle, a storm surge of three to six feet of water above normally dry land was common.
A rise to nearly five feet was observed in Shell Beach, La., which is southeast of New Orleans.
Coastal Mississippi was also experiencing significant storm surge flooding.
Numerous waterspouts (tornadoes over water) were observed along the coast, which prompted a tornado watch from roughly Gulfport, Miss. to Pensacola, Fla.
Hurricane warnings, which had been in effect overnight from Grand Isle, La., to the Alabama border with Florida, were lifted Sunday morning after a night of damaging winds — gusting over 80 mph at times — as well as torrential rains and coastal flooding.
Because the core of the storm passed east of New Orleans, the hurricane warning was changed to a tropical storm warning there and then discontinued.
Nate is the ninth hurricane to form in the Atlantic this season, which is the highest total since the infamous 2012 season featuring Hurricane Sandy.
The storm, which started forming earlier this week in the southwestern Caribbean, reportedly killed 25 people as it passed along Central America.
On Friday and into Saturday, Nate steadily became better organized over the warm waters of the Caribbean and southern Gulf of Mexico. Some wind shear prevented the storm from gaining more strength prior to landfall.
Capital Weather Gang’s Angela Fritz contributed to this story.