Hurricane warning for Gulf; Philly region in Nate's path

Hurricane warnings were in effect Friday from Louisiana to Alabama, and the government said “life-threatening storm surge flooding” was possible as Tropical Storm Nate matures into a hurricane and approaches the Gulf Coast.

Nate could wring out up to 10 inches of rain from the Gulf to the southern Appalachians, the National Hurricane Center said.

And it is expected to affect Philadelphia on Sunday and Monday with rain and possibly wind – but probably in a benign way.

“We’re not really looking at much flooding potential out of this system,” said Joe Miketta, acting chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly.

For one thing, the soil around here is bone-dry, the plant life has worked up a mighty thirst, and stream flows are low.

So are the rain totals.

In Chester County, for example, less than an inch has been measured in the last 30 days. That’s 18 percent of normal.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has Philadelphia and adjacent areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in  its “abnormally dry” zone.

If anything, Miketta said, the one to two inches of rain would “help relieve the deficit somewhat.”

At  5 p.m. Friday, Nate was near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with peak winds of 60 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Nate, moving north at just over 20 mph, was forecast to mine the warm Gulf waters and could make landfall on the coast as a hurricane early Sunday.

Then it is expected to arc northeast, with its center eventually passing near Philadelphia.

By then, however, Nate would be what meteorologists call “post-tropical,” although it still would have some juice left, and the hurricane center sees a slight chance of tropical-storm force winds around here.

Miketta said that the rain would be welcome.

“It would be nice to recharge the aquifers before the freezes start,” he said.

If Nate does turn into a hurricane, it will be the ninth in this ferocious season — which still has nearly two months to go. The yearly average is six.

The season’s monster storms — Harvey, Irma and Maria — have exacted tremendous tolls: The number of deaths associated with Harvey stands at 75, mostly in Texas; Irma resulted in 87 deaths; and Maria has claimed 34 lives in Puerto Rico.

The storms will also extract a tremendous toll from U.S. taxpayers.