Hurricane Nate has formed with 75 mph sustained winds, the National Hurricane Center reported late Friday night.

After inundating Central America and leaving dozens dead, Hurricane Nate is currently heading for the central Gulf Coast.

Late Friday night, an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft penetrated the center of the storm and reported hurricane force winds. At 10:30 p.m., Nate was 495 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving north-northwest at 22 mph. Currently, tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 125 miles mainly to the east of the center of Nate.

Nate is forecast to make landfall over the Gulf Coast Saturday night or early Sunday, likely as a category 1 or stronger as it moves over the warm waters of the central Gulf of Mexico.

A hurricane warning has been issued from Morgan City, La. eastward to the Florida/Alabama border. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning is in place from Morgan City west to Intracoastal City, La. and from the Florida/Alabama border eastward to Destin.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday proactively declared a state of emergency for 29 counties, including Escambia and Santa Rosa. Gulf Islands National Seashore officials announced that all park areas would close on Thursday evening ahead of the storm’s landfall, and the University of West Florida announced that all UWF facilities would close at noon Saturday and remain closed through Monday.


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