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Hurricane Nate gains strength as it heads for central Gulf Coast

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Hurricane Nate gains strength as it heads for central Gulf Coast

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Oct. 7 that it expects Hurricane Nate to hit the central Gulf Coast as a Category 2 storm with winds approaching 100 miles per hour.

The center's latest forecast, issued at 10 a.m. ET on Oct. 7, predicts the storm will make landfall on Saturday night. The storm appears to be gaining strength, as the center's previous forecast issued Oct. 7 at 7 a.m. ET, said Nate would make landfall as a Category 1 storm.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Grand Isle, La., to the Alabama/Florida border, including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Oct. 5 when Nate was still a tropical storm.

Offshore oil and gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico have already started evacuating platforms and shutting in supply in advance of the hurricane. In a report released Oct. 7, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimated that approximately 92% of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in ahead of Hurricane Nate, which equates to 1,615,966 barrels of oil per day. The agency estimated that approximately 77% of the natural gas production, or 2,479.64 million cubic feet per day, in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in.