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By Bob Henson and Dr. Jeff Masters
A hurricane warning was in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border on Friday evening as Tropical Storm Nate, with sustained winds of 70 mph as of 11 p.m. EDT, sped through the narrow Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Update: Nate was upgraded to hurricane strength by the NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center at 11:30 p.m. EDT Friday, with top sustained winds of 75 mph based on Hurricane Hunter reported.
Very intense thunderstorms were erupting on Friday night near Nate's center, located about 90 miles northeast of Cozumel as of 8 p.m. EDT Friday. Nate was in the process of closing off an eyewall, and it is likely to be a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday night when it makes landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast between Southeast Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle.