ShareThis Page

Tropical Storm Nate blamed for 22 deaths; threatens US coast

| Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, 6:54 p.m.
Neighbors walk under the rain past a washed out road in Alajuelita on the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
Neighbors walk under the rain past a washed out road in Alajuelita on the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
Neighbors walk under the rain past a washed out road in Alajuelita on the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. Tropical Storm Nate formed off the coast of Nicaragua on Thursday and was being blamed for at least 17 deaths in Central America as it spun north toward a potential landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast as a hurricane over the weekend. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
Neighbors walk under the rain past a washed out road in Alajuelita on the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. Tropical Storm Nate formed off the coast of Nicaragua on Thursday and was being blamed for at least 17 deaths in Central America as it spun north toward a potential landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast as a hurricane over the weekend. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
A cyclist rides over a bridge over the Maria Aguilar river on the outskirt San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
A cyclist rides over a bridge over the Maria Aguilar river on the outskirt San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
Workers observe a landslide on the outskirt San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
Workers observe a landslide on the outskirt San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
A couple cross a bridge over the Maria Aguilar river on the outskirt San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
A couple cross a bridge over the Maria Aguilar river on the outskirt San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Newly formed Tropical Storm Nate was blamed Thursday for at least 22 deaths across Central America as it dumped rain across the region on a path that would carry it toward a potential landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast as a hurricane over the weekend.

Louisiana officials ordered some people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands, and evacuations began at some offshore oil platforms in the Gulf.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm could cause dangerous flooding by dumping as much as 15 to 20 inches of rain as it moved over Honduras, with higher accumulations in a few places.

It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph by Thursday afternoon and was likely to strengthen over the northwestern Caribbean Sea Thursday night and Friday before a possible strike on the Cancun region at the tip of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula at near-hurricane strength. It could hit the U.S. Gulf coast near New Orleans over the weekend at hurricane strength.

In Nicaragua, Nate's arrival followed two weeks of near-constant rain that had left the ground saturated and rivers swollen. Authorities placed the whole country on alert and warned of flooding and landslides.

Nicaragua's vice president and spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo, said that at least 15 people had died in that country due to the storm. She didn't give details on all the deaths, but said two women and a man who worked for the Health Ministry were swept away by a flooded canal in the central municipality of Juigalpa.

The government closed schools nationwide.

Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Organism blamed seven deaths in that country on the storm and said 15 people were missing. Flooding drove 5,000 residents into emergency shelters.

In Louisiana, officials ordered the evacuation of part of coastal St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans ahead of the storm. Earlier Thursday, a voluntary evacuation was called in the barrier island town of Grand Isle south of New Orleans.

New Orleans officials outlined steps to bolster the city's pump and drainage system. Weaknesses in that system were revealed during summer flash floods.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement's New Orleans office said in a news release that as of midday Thursday, six production platforms, out of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf, had been evacuated. No drilling rigs were evacuated, but one moveable rig was taken out of the storm's path.

The agency estimated less than 15 percent of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in, which equates to 254,607 barrels of oil per day.

The storm was centered about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west-southwest of Puerto Lempira, Honduras and was moving north-northwest near 10 mph.

The forecast track showed the storm could brush across the tip of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula late Friday night and then hit the U.S. Gulf Coast as a hurricane by Sunday morning. Forecasters said hurricane conditions were possible in Mexico Friday night.

In the Pacific, former Tropical Storm Ramon dissipated off the southwestern coast of Mexico.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.