Nate downgraded to tropical storm, more than 100k without power in Mississippi and Alabama

(ABC News) — Gulf Coast residents are waking up to a wet, windy — and in some cases, powerless — Sunday morning, but it’s still not as devastating as they expected: Hurricane Nate was downgraded to a tropical storm around 4:30 a.m. ET.

The storm, moving north-northeast at 23 mph with maximum winds of 70 mph, is moving farther inland over Mississippi and Alabama.

“Even though Nate has made landfall and will weaken today, we are still forecast heavy rain from Nate to spread well inland towards the Tennessee Valley and Appalachian mountains,” ABC News meteorologist Daniel Manzo said Sunday morning.

Around 2:30 a.m. ET, a tornado watch covering most of southern Alabama and part of the Florida Panhandle was issued. It is in effect until 11 a.m.

Nate had made its second landfall as a Category 1 storm around 1:30 a.m. ET Sunday along the Gulf Coast near Biloxi, Mississippi with maximum winds of 85 mph, slamming some Mississippi and Alabama communities with a storm surge of between four to five feet.

Related Content: US states declare emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Nate

Nate made its first landfall Saturday night as a Category 1 storm near the mouth of the Mississippi River on the southeastern Louisiana coast.

Officials in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida were well-prepared for Nate’s arrival, however, with its governors declaring states of emergency and mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders.

Even though Nate’s wrath was not as terrible as expected, more than 100,000 customers across Alabama and Mississippi were without power as of 6 a.m. ET. In Alabama, 56,250 customers were without power, while 46,487 customers in Mississippi were without power.

Power lines were down in some communities, and in Grand Bay, Alabama, for example, power lines caught fire.

Nate was the first hurricane to hit Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — and the state’s residents were glad that it was not going to be of the same scale.

“We left for Katrina, but we’re going to ride this one out,” Ed Nodhturft told The Associated Press from his Ocean Springs, Mississippi home prior to Nate’ arrival.

He was hosting an impromptu family reunion after several relatives who were staying at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi were forced to leave the hotel and seek refuge at his home.

Massachusetts native John Adams who lives on Belle Fontaine Beach, a narrow strip of land between the Mississippi Sound and a coastal marsh, told the AP, “This is my first hurricane. So far, it’s kind of a fizzle.”

Ahead of Nate’s landfall, the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama all issued stern warnings to residents.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Thursday and warned residents to prepare for heavy rain, storm surge and high winds.

“No one should take this storm lightly,” Edwards said at a press conference Friday. “We do want people to be very, very cautious and to not take this storm for granted.”

In New Orleans, the mayor said some areas outside of the levee protection system could see a 7-to-11-foot storm surge.

But the National Weather Service on Saturday evening cancelled the city’s hurricane warning and Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered an overnight curfew be lifted. By Saturday night, the evening’s rain ceased.

In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant on Friday declared a state of emergency in several southern counties in preparation for the storm.

“If you are in an area that has flooded, I would recommend you evacuate that area until the storm has ended and the water has receded for your own personal safety and for the safety of the first responders that will be responding in the event you are trapped,” Bryant said at a press conference Friday.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency that went into effect Friday morning. “It has become clear that Alabama, especially on our coast will experience some of the worst conditions from this storm,” Ivey said at a press conference Friday. “Alabamans, you must prepare and be vigilant. This is serious business.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott also declared a state of emergency in some counties.

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