Update Thursday AM
As expected, Nate emerged as a named storm over night. The storm is now interacting withland in Central America and is therefore having trouble getting organized. And, as expected given the uncertainty this causes, the forecasts are unclear on future intensity. The most recent National Hurricane Center projection has Nate Maxing out as a much weaker storm than yesterday's projection suggested. And, the center of the expected path of the storm has shifted west and is now centered roughly on New Orleans.
After leaving Central America, Nate is expected to pass just over the eastern Yucatan as a tropical storm. That's thea rea of Cancune and the Maya Riviera, which has seen its share of bad storms. Nate will probably be departing that area and moving out over the Gulf, still as a tropical storm, early Saturday morning.
Between Saturday morning and Sunday Morning, Nate will have turned into an actual Hurricane, Category I, perhaps with maximum sustained winds of around 75 miles per hour. Then, during the day Sunday, the storm will come ashore with the center somewhere between a point west of New Orleans and a point west of Tallahasse. That would be the center of the storm, not the full effect.
The National Weather Service is not yet issuing information on storm surges.
When people hear about Nate they say, "Only a Category I, no big deal." I was in a weak Category II/Category I hurricane once. I walked around in it. It seemed like a really strong Nor'easter, not much more. Meanwhile, some 60 miles away, my sister-in-law's house, way up on a hill overlooking the ocean, was 100% covered with the sea. She had seaweed in her attic, crabs in her bathroom, and bluefish in kitchen. All I'm saying is that just because some hurricanes get called "major" does not mean that the other ones are "minor."
Update Wed PM:
As expected, the intensification projected for this storm has been upgraded a bit but it still likely to stay in the Category 1 range, with landfall on the Gulf coast (tentatively) at around 5PM Sunday, so strong winds etc. affecting the coast starting any time over the weekend.
There are now some projected tracks that put the center of the storm right in New Orleans, others that keep it over the Florida panhandle. On one hand it is too early to say, but on the other hand, the storm is forming fairly quickly and will move fairly quickly to make a landfall in just a few days.
The next named storm in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin will be called Nate. There is currently a tropical depression located not far from Nicaragua that is expected to become a named storm pretty soon. It may pass over or interact with land between now and Friday, but if it does what the experts project, some time between Friday mid day and Saturday PM, it will be over very warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, heading mostly north, and turning into a hurricane. It will likely remain a Category I hurricane until making landfall on the Gulf Coast by the end of the day Sunday. Location of landfall of the center of the storm is between some point east of New Orleans and some point north of Tampa, with the general area of Tallahassee being the current, but subject to change, bulls-eye.
This is all fairly speculative at the moment. The track seems very likely but it can change. The most important change that could happen is that the storm turns out to be stronger than currently anticipated. I say this simply because unexpected strengthening seems to be association with warm deep waters, which is a fairly new phenomenon. As far as I know, meteorological science is silent on this issue, and this is just my gut feeling. But if a storm doing what this storm is doing is projected as having 80 mph winds near landfall, I'd leave open the possibility of stronger winds closer to 100 mph. If so, the storm would be a weak Category 2. Again, this is just a guess.
As indicated in the graphic above, an experimental NWS product, tropical storm force winds could arrive in the keys by late Friday PM, and along the gulf coast near NOLA and the panhandle overnight Saturday.