Tropical Storm Nate roared toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Friday after drenching Central America in rain that was blamed for at least 22 deaths, and forecasters said it could reach the US Gulf Coast as a hurricane over the weekend. Louisiana officials declared a state of emergency and ordered some people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands ahead of its expected landfall early Sunday, and evacuations began at some offshore oil platforms in the Gulf, the AP reports. Nicaraguan authorities say the storm killed at least 15 people in that country. Costa Rican officials blamed seven deaths on the storm and said 15 people were missing.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards mobilized 1,300 National Guard troops, with 15 headed to New Orleans to monitor the fragile pumping system there. With forecasts projecting landfall in southeast Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, Edwards urged residents to ready for rainfall, storm surge, and severe winds—and to be where they intend to hunker down by "dark on Saturday." Edwards says Nate is forecast to move quickly, rather than stall and drop tremendous amounts of rain on the state. State officials hope that means New Orleans won't run into problems with its pumps being able to handle the water. Edwards warned, however, against underestimating the storm. (Read more Tropical Storm Nate stories.)