MEXICO CITY – Category 1 Hurricane Nate intensified early Saturday as it moved over the Gulf of Mexico on its way to the US mainland.
While Nate was not expected to affect Mexican territory, the National Meteorological Service (SMN) reported the storm’s winds picked up speed to reach 150 km per hour, with gusts of up to 175 kph.
The storm was forecast to grow into a category-two hurricane by around 7 p.m., as it reached the U.S. coast.
At 10 a.m., the hurricane was located 555 km north of Mexico’s eastern Yucatan Peninsula, and 285 km southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River in the southern United States, with a projected path leading northwest at 43 km per hour.
Nate’s trajectory away from Mexico led the SMN to call off a storm watch that was in effect for the eastern states of Quintana Roo, home of tourist town of Cancun, and Yucatan.
As a precautionary measure, Cancun’s 38,000 tourists were recommended on Friday to hunker down inside their hotels, the Cancun hotel association said in a press release.
As a tropical storm, Nate caused severe flooding in parts of Central America that left at least 22 people dead in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras.