After declaring a state of emergency for New Orleans earlier this week, the city’s mayor announced plans on Friday to impose a curfew in the city this weekend amid a threat from Tropical Storm Nate.
Nate has already been blamed for 22 deaths in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
The city’s mayor, Mitch Landrieu, said residents who live outside the city’s levee system or in low-lying areas should move to higher ground.
“There is no need to panic,” he tweeted. “Be ready and prepare. Get a plan. Prepare to protect your personal property.”
Evacuations were ordered Thursday for parts of Louisiana, including St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans.
Landrieu also said in a news conference Friday that he plans to impose a curfew for New Orleans from 6 p.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Sunday.
The storm’s maximum sustained wind speeds were at 65 mph as of the National Hurricane Center’s 8 p.m. ET Friday advisory and are expected to gain strength over the next few days.
Nate’s core was expected to travel toward the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula Friday evening before making landfall over the northern Gulf Coast by late Saturday or early Sunday.
“On the forecast track, the center of Nate will move near the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula this evening,” the NHC said. “Nate will then move into the southern Gulf of Mexico tonight, approach the northern Gulf coast Saturday, and then make landfall over the northern Gulf coast Saturday night or Sunday.”
Nate is expected to reach hurricane status by the time it reaches the northern Gulf of Mexico.
A direct impact to South Florida is not expected but the area will likely see some more rain this weekend as Nate churns up through the Gulf.
“Nate will pass well to the west of South Florida, so that means a continued deep flow of moisture from the south and a good chance of showers and thunderstorms during the weekend,” said Dennis Feltgen, spokesperson for the Miami-based NHC.
Nate is the busy 2017 Atlantic hurricane season’s latest named storm, having originated from Tropical Depression 16, which developed Wednesday in the southwestern Caribbean Sea.
In the past 24 hours, Nate’s projected path has changed, with the track shifting west and farther away from Florida.
The forecast track from the National Hurricane Center on Wednesday had the storm’s core headed straight for Florida’s northern Gulf Coast near Panama City Beach.
That changed overnight and the storm’s center on Thursday was headed toward the general vicinity of the mouth of the Mississippi River at the southeastern tip of Louisiana.
In Nicaragua, Nate’s arrival followed two weeks of near-constant rain that 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 the 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 department blamed seven deaths in that country on the storm and said 15 people were missing. Flooding also reportedly drove 5,000 residents into emergency shelters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.