Atlantic 2-Day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook. Image via NOAA
By Rod Nickel (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Nate rapidly weakened as it moved over Alabama on Sunday, although the fast-moving former hurricane rattled the doors of Biloxi’s casinos and left gambling floors and highways in the region flooded after making its landfall in Mississippi.
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Its maximum sustained winds dropped to 45 miles per hour (70 km per hour) as it moved northeast into Alabama, prompting the National Hurricane Center to end its tropical storm warning for the region east of the Alabama-Florida border on Sunday morning. Only a few hours earlier it had been blowing at 70 mph (110 km per hour), but Nate appeared to lack the devastating punch of its recent predecessors.
The fourth major storm to strike the United States in less than two months, Nate killed at least 30 people in Central America before entering the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and bearing down on the U.S. South. It has also shut down most oil and gas production in the Gulf.
Nate follows a succession of big Atlantic hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, that have devastated areas of the Caribbean and southern United States in the last two months.
The storm’s center will move inland over Mississippi and across the deep south, Tennessee Valley and Central Appalachian Mountains through Monday, the National Hurricane Center said. Heavy rainfall and storm surge flooding continued to be a danger across the region, the center warned.
Nate made its initial landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi river on Saturday evening and then made a second landfall early on Sunday near Boloxi, Mississippi, where its 46,000 residents were warned that the highest storm surge could reach 11 to 12 feet.
The storm surge brought flood waters over Highway 90 and up to oceanside casinos in Biloxi, while flood waters swept over streets in communities across Mississippi and Alabama, according to reports on social media.