Hurricane Hunters find Nate growing stronger

NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center
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MIAMI Hurricane hunter planes have found Tropical Storm Nate growing stronger just off Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Nate has top sustained winds of 65 mph (105 kph) and is situated about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Cozumel, Mexico, on Friday night.

The tropical storm is moving north-northwest at 22 mph (35 kph). Forecasters expect it to turn north late Saturday, when it will approach the northern Gulf Coast of the U.S. Landfall is expected there Saturday night or Sunday.

The hurricane center says conditions are favorable for Nate to continue strengthening as it crosses the Gulf.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami has issued a hurricane warning for metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.

The warning comes on top of one issued earlier Friday for the area between Grand Isle, Louisiana, and the Alabama-Florida border.

The NHC says Tropical Storm Nate was growing in strength and was expected to be a hurricane by the time it reaches the U.S. late Saturday or early Sunday.

Nate barreled through Central America earlier in the week, claiming at least 21 lives. It is expected to pass near or over the coast of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula late Friday.