"Nate will then move into the southern Gulf of Mexico [Friday night], approach the northern Gulf coast Saturday, and then move make landfall over the northern Gulf coast Saturday night or Sunday".
"On the forecast track, the center of Nate will approach the mouth of the MS during the next several hours and will make landfall along the central U.S. Gulf Coast tonight", the NHC said.
The storm was located about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of the Mexican resort island of Cozumel and had accelerated its north-northwest movement to 22 mph (35 kph).
"This is a very strong storm", Edwards said. And time is up to prepare.
Tropical Storm Nate gained strength as it barrelled toward popular Mexican beach resorts and ultimately the US Gulf coast after dumping heavy rains on Central America that left at least 28 people dead.
"Since the August 5 event we have been working 24/7 to be better prepared for rain storms", Lapeyrolerie said.
"I don't have full confidence in those pumps", said Humberto Suazo, chief financial officer of Link Restaurant Group in uptown New Orleans. Forecasters said floodwaters could reach 11 feet above ground level, "so that is life-threatening", Brennan said. While heights seen in open water are unlikely to make it to shore, battering waves are likely to accompany surge along the coast, especially to the east of the center.
In Grand Isle, a barrier island south of the Big Easy, officials called a voluntary evacuatuon for residents.
Streets in low-lying areas of Louisiana were already flooded.
MS has opened 11 evacuation centres in preparation. He said that three-quarters of hurricane fatalities are caused by water and that motorists could be fooled by deceptively deep water.
Officials in MS recommended evacuations for all low-lying areas and for people living near waterways and in mobile homes.
"While it appears we're being spared. our hearts go out to MS", said Amos Cormier, president of Plaquemines Parish, a low-lying area in the New Orleans area. Personnel from some 301 production platforms (40.84 percent of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico) have been evacuated.
The greatest threats, according to the National Weather Service, will be potential flash flooding and the possibility of downed trees and power outages.
Facilities will be inspected after the storm has passed. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect as far north as the Birmingham and Gadsden.
State officials are asking people who live in a mobile home, from the Jackson area and south, to start making plans to relocate.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (100 kph) by Friday afternoon and was likely to strengthen over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday before brushing by the Cancun region at the tip of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.