Nate became the fourteenth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season after it developed in the Bay of Campeche on September 7. The storm is currently located approximately 150 miles (240 kilometers) west of Campeche, Mexico and 305 miles (490 kilometers) east-southeast of Tuxpan, Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm currently packs sustained winds of around 50 mph (85 kmph), equivalent to a tropical storm. Nate is currently traveling in a west-southwest direction, but is expected to slowly move westward or west-northwestward this afternoon. On this forecast track, the center of Nate will approach the coast of Mexico from Tampico to Veracruz on Sunday. The NHC said tropical storm force winds extend 105 miles (165 kilometers) from the center of the storm.
A hurricane watch has been issued along the Mexican coast from Tampico to Veracruz. The NHC predicts hurricane conditions to be possible within the watch area by late Sunday, with tropical storm conditions possible by early Sunday. A tropical storm watch has been issued for the area from Veracruz to Punta El Lagarto and from Tampico to La Cruz. Nate is expected to take a turn towards the west or west-northwest this afternoon. This motion will be followed by a slight increase in forward speed over the next 48 hours. Some strengthening is forecasted during this time, with a chance of Nate becoming a hurricane by Saturday. On this path, the center of Nate is expected to approach the coast of Mexico in the hurricane watch area on Sunday. The extended forecast shows Nate moving inland across Mexico in a westerly direction before dissipating.
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While aircraft reconnaissance found Nate to be weaker than earlier in the day, the official NHC prediction has Nate strengthening to hurricane status by Saturday, and approaching the coast of Mexico by Sunday morning. The storm is predicted to bring up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rainfall over the Mexican states of Campeche and Tabasco, with some isolated areas receiving as much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain.
Tropical Storm Nate has already been blamed for ten missing contract workers who evacuated a rig off the coast of Tabasco, Mexico Thursday afternoon. Bad weather has hampered search efforts for the missing contractors from a Texas-based company that had been conducting seismic studies for Mexico’s state oil monopoly, Pemex. While shipments of Mexican oil have been affected by the storm, crude oil and gas production in U.S. waters of the Gulf are not expected to be affected by Nate.
Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Associated Press, Reuters News, CNN
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