Washington:Tropical storm Nate has killed 20 people in the Central American nations of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras ahead of hitting the US mainland later this week, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.
Six people have died in storm-related accidents in Costa Rica, while another 11 were killed when it moved north and reached Nicaragua. Three persons died in Honduras, authorities said.
In Costa Rica, nearly 400,000 people were without running water and thousands were sleeping in shelters.
The Centre has forecast the storm to make landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Friday with up to inches 20 cm of rain, reports CNN.
An NHC advisory said warnings were issued for portions of the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines, with the storm expected to hit the region late Saturday or early Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane.
Nate’s forecast track had shifted slightly by late Thursday morning, putting New Orleans directly in the storm’s sights.
On Thursday evening, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared a state of emergency and advised residents to stay put throughout the weekend.
The forecast cone also covered a small sliver of the Florida Panhandle, where officials still reeling from Hurricane Irma enacted emergency plans.
Additionally, offshore oil and gas operators have evacuated personnel from six of the 737 manned oil and natural gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Unlike drilling rigs, which usually move locations, production platforms stay in the same location during a project. One drilling rig was moved out of the storm’s predicted path as a precaution.
The region was already recovering from several major hurricanes: Hurricane Harvey tore through Texas in August, and Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September. Another powerful storm, Hurricane Maria, ripped through the Caribbean in late September.
So far this year in the Atlantic, there have been six tropical storms and eight hurricanes.