Hurricane Nate (2017)

Hurricane Nate
Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Nate 2017-10-07 1848Z.jpg
Hurricane Nate at peak intensity racing towards Louisiana on October 7
Formed October 4, 2017
Dissipated October 11, 2017
( Extratropical after October 9)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 90 mph (150 km/h)
Lowest pressure 981 mbar ( hPa); 28.97 inHg
Fatalities 45 confirmed (as of October 11)
Damage > $835 million (2017 USD)
Areas affected Central America, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Yucatán Peninsula, Gulf Coast of the United States ( Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama), Eastern United States, Atlantic Canada
Part of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Nate was a large and unusually fast-moving tropical cyclone that caused widespread destruction and casualties in Central America during early October 2017, before making landfall on the US Gulf Coast. The fourteenth named storm and ninth hurricane of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Nate originated from a broad area of low pressure over the southwestern Caribbean on October 3. The disturbance moved northwest, organizing into a tropical depression the next day and attaining tropical storm intensity early on October 5. The storm moved ashore the coastline of Nicaragua thereafter. Little change in strength occurred as the system continued into Honduras, and Nate began steady intensification over the warm waters of the northwestern Caribbean Sea shortly thereafter. It attained hurricane intensity while moving through the Yucatán Channel early on October 7, attaining peak winds of 90 mph (150 km/h) in the central Gulf of Mexico later that day. Early on the next day, Nate made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. After crossing the marshland of the Mississippi Delta, it made its second U.S. landfall [1] near Biloxi, Mississippi early on on October 8, causing a storm surge to flood the ground floor of coastal casinos and buildings, as well as causing rip currents, hurricane-force winds, and beach erosion.

Moving northwestward at 28 mph (44 km/h), Nate was the fastest-moving tropical system ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico. It is also the fourth Atlantic hurricane of 2017 to have made landfall in the United States or one of its territories; such a quartet of landfalls has not occurred since 2005. In addition, Nate was the first tropical cyclone to move ashore in the state of Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina. [2]

As of October 10, the hurricane had killed at least 45 people: 16 deaths were counted in Nicaragua, 11 in Costa Rica, 5 in Guatemala, 7 in Panama, 3 in Honduras, 1 in El Salvador, and 2 in the United States.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

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. [3] 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. [4] The disturbance began to show signs of strenghtening 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 15:00 UTC on October 4. [5]

The newly formed cyclone traveled on a northwest course during its incipience, steered by a ridge over the southwestern Atlantic. [6] Later on October 4, the inner core convection blossomed, with a well-defined convective band on the eastern semicircle. [7] 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 12:00 UTC on October 5. By then, the system had moved ashore just south of Puerto Cabezas. [8] [9] 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. [10] 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. [11]

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. [12] 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. [13] [14] 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 28 mph (45 km/h), Nate became the fastest-moving hurricane on record in the gulf. [15] Favorable environmental conditions allowed the strengthening to continue: Nate developed a symmetrical central dense overcast, featuring cloud tops cooler than -114°F (-80°C) and a sizable eye underneath, attaining winds of 90 mph (150 km/h) at 15:00 UTC. [16] The hurricane reached a minimum barometric pressure of 981 mbar (hPa; 28.97 inHg) a few hours later. [17]

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. [17] Around 00:00 UTC on October 8, Nate made its first landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River with winds of 85 mph (140 km/h). [18] Deep convection migrated to the north and east of the center, and a curve toward the north brought the storm ashore just west of Biloxi, Mississippi around 05:30 UTC. [19] Inland, Nate became embedded within the fast mid-latitude westerlies, causing the storm to accelerate north-northeast while weakening to a tropical storm by 09:00 UTC. [20] Surface observations indicated a rapidly weakening cyclone, prompting the NHC to downgrade Nate to a tropical depression six hours later while it was located over southwestern Alabama; further advisories were relegated to the Weather Prediction Center (WPC). [21] Moving into Ohio early on October 9, Nate transitioned into a post-tropical cyclone at 09:00 UTC; [22] the WPC issued its final advisory on the cyclone over northwestern Pennsylvania six hours later. [23] However, Nate's remnants continued to move northeastward, emerging off shore late on October 10, before being absorbed by a larger extratropical cyclone to the north, while situated over the southern Labrador Sea. [24]

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