An elongated surface trough of low pressure began interacting with an upper-level low across the northwestern Caribbean at the start of October, resulting in widespread cloudiness and scattered showers across the region. Despite unusually low surface pressures, strong upper-level winds were initially forecast to prevent significant organization. During the afternoon hours of October 3, satellite imagery and surface observations indicated that a broad area of low pressure had formed over the extreme southwestern Caribbean. The disturbance began to show signs of strengthening almost immediately; satellite images the next morning showed large curved bands of deep convection wrapping into the well-defined center, prompting the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to upgrade it to a tropical depression at 12:00 UTC on October 4, while located about 40 mi (64 km) south of San Andres Island.
The newly formed cyclone traveled on a northwest course during its incipience, steered by a ridge over the southwestern Atlantic. Later on October 4, the inner core convection blossomed, with a well-defined convective band on the eastern semicircle. The presence of a partial eyewall on the San Andres radar, coupled with surface observations from Nicaragua, incentivized the NHC to upgrade the depression to Tropical Storm Nate at 06:00 UTC on October 5. 6 hours later, the system had moved ashore just south of Puerto Cabezas. Combined with moderate southwesterly wind shear aloft, the storm's passage over the rugged terrains of Nicaragua and Honduras caused the cloud pattern to deteriorate, although its winds remained near tropical storm force. This lapse in structure was temporary, however, as Nate redeveloped deep convection even before re-emerging over water; in fact, the cyclone exhibited some semblance of a convective ring on microwave imagery. Embedded within a larger cyclonic gyre across Central America, Nate maintained a northwesterly course across land, bringing the storm into the Gulf of Honduras during the early hours of October 6.
Infrared satellite loop of Nate making landfall in the Mississippi Delta
on October 8
Once over the warm waters of the northwestern Caribbean Sea, Nate began to strengthen slowly, despite its broad surface center and the disjointment of the maximum winds east from the center. A developing subtropical ridge over the western Atlantic turned the storm on a more north-northwest trajectory. NOAA and Air Force reserve reconnaissance aircraft sampling the system throughout the evening of October 6 confirmed continued intensification; data around 02:30 UTC the next day, showing a developing eyewall, supported upgrading Nate to the season's ninth consecutive hurricane. Continued flow between the ridge over the western Atlantic and the Central American gyre propelled Nate into the Yucatán Channel and then the Gulf of Mexico on October 7; in fact, with a 12-hour averaged motion of 29 mph (47 km/h), Nate became the fastest-moving hurricane on record in the gulf. Favorable environmental conditions allowed the strengthening to continue: Nate developed a symmetrical central dense overcast, featuring cloud tops cooler than −114 °F (−81 °C) and a sizable eye underneath, attaining peak winds of 90 mph (150 km/h) at 12:00 UTC. The hurricane reached a minimum barometric pressure of 981 mbar (hPa; 28.97 inHg) 6 hours later.
Impinging vertical wind shear caused Nate's convection to rapidly warm and lose structure, despite the storm's attempts to form a more distinct eye. Around 00:00 UTC on October 8, Nate made its first landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River with winds of 85 mph (137 km/h). Deep convection migrated to the north and east of the center, and a curve toward the north brought the storm ashore near Biloxi, Mississippi at 05:30 UTC with winds of 75 mph (121 km/h). Inland, Nate became embedded within the fast mid-latitude westerlies, causing the storm to accelerate north-northeast while weakening to a tropical storm 30 minutes later. Surface observations indicated a rapidly weakening cyclone, prompting the NHC to downgrade Nate to a tropical depression at 12:00 UTC while it was located over southwestern Alabama; further advisories were relegated to the Weather Prediction Center (WPC). Nate continued to weaken, and degrading to a remnant low over Tennessee. A few hours later, the remnant low became an over the Ohio Valley. The extratropical cyclone moved northeastward into New England, then turned east-northeastward into Canadian Maritime on October 10. The extratropical remnant dissipated near Newfoundland on early October 11, as it degenerated into a trough rotating around another extratropical cyclone to its north.