Washington: A hurricane warning has been issued for New Orleans as tropical storm Nate continued to move north through the western Caribbean Sea, causing multiple deaths and damage in parts of Central America.
The Yucatan peninsula in Mexico on Friday evening was braced for Nate's arrival, with high "winds, storm surge and heavy rainfall" expected, the Washington-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.
The NHC warned of "life-threatening storm surge flooding" along areas of the northern Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Florida, and that residents "should heed any evacuation instructions", reports Efe news.
Authorities have also alerted residents from Louisiana to Alabama to urgently complete "preparations to protect life and property".
The storm is forecast to bring rainfall of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated totals of 10 inches in areas from the central Gulf Coast into the southern Appalachians in Virginia.
Nate has steadily gained in strength as it moves through the western Caribbean and Central America, triggering flash floods and landslides in areas of Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize. At least 26 people have died, and several were reported missing.
Some 500,000 people in Costa Rica were without access to safe drinking water. Nearly 18,500 households were left without electricity.
"Due to the size of the event there are a great number of places that are isolated. There is total destruction of bridges, collapses, landslides that have destroyed significant parts of roads or blocked them," President Luis Guillermo Solis told reporters.
"We have people trapped in vehicles, who are in good health, but we have not been able to evacuate them because of the conditions."
The Red Cross has been working to rescue as many as 60 people who remain stuck in buses and cars on a mountainous stretch of the Inter-American Highway.