Hurricane Nate brought flooding and power outages as it sloshed ashore outside Biloxi early Sunday, the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The storm hit the state early Sunday with maximum sustained winds near 85 mph but weakened later to a tropical depression as it moved inland, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Earlier, Biloxi officials had warned residents that storm surge flooding could reach up to 11 or 12 feet in some parts of the city. Biloxi has a population of about 46,000.
As Nate moved inland, it weakened rapidly, becoming a tropical storm by Sunday morning. Heavy rain and flash flooding could still be expected, however.
“Even though Nate has made landfall and will weaken today, we are still forecasting heavy rain … to spread well inland toward the Tennessee Valley and Appalachian mountains,” said ABC News meteorologist Daniel Manzo.
After killing at least 30 people in Central America as a tropical storm, Nate first made landfall in the U.S. as a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday night near the mouth of the Mississippi River on the southeastern Louisiana coast.
Thousands of residents in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida lost power due to the storm. And storm surges were reported in several cities along the Gulf Coast in Mississippi and Alabama.
Late Saturday night, the hurricane center said flooding of 7 to 11 feet above ground level could be expected along the Mississippi coast for the “next several hours.” A storm surge warning, it added, was in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Okaloosa/Walton county line in Florida.
Nate is the fourth major hurricane to wreak havoc in the U.S. in a span of just six weeks. As a Category 1 storm, however, it didn’t inflict the same level of damage as Harvey, Irma and Maria, which devastated Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico respectively.
Still, officials in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida urged residents to not underestimate the storm’s power. All four states declared states of emergency and issued evacuation orders as Nate approached the Gulf Coast.
“No one should take this storm lightly,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said at a press conference on Friday. “We do want people to be very, very cautious and to not take this storm for granted.”
Category 1 hurricanes are characterized by “very dangerous winds” that are capable of destroying roofs, snapping large tree branches and causing “extensive damage to power lines and poles,” according to the hurricane center.
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