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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Hurricane Nate lashes Mississippi Gulf Coast; Students chase storm

Emma Dray Braswell | The Reflector

Owners of the boat pictured above moved the boat from Houston, Texas to Biloxi to save it from the damages of Hurricane Harvey. A month later, the boat was moved only to be lashed by Hurricane Nate when the storm made landfall in Biloxi and the Gulf Coast. 


A fourth hurricane made landfall in the United States this past weekend.

Hurricane Nate made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Saturday as a Category 1 Hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour.

The storm originally formed in the Caribbean, off the coast of Nicaragua, as a tropical storm on October 4.

As it made its way along the coast of Central America, the storm displaced nearly 500,000 residents and killed 43 people in Central America.

As the storm was on the verge of making landfall, preparations were made along the Gulf Coast. New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu issued a citywide curfew for Saturday evening.

The Governors of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama declared states of emergency for “would-be” affected areas.

In Mobile, Alabama, a multitude of tunnels, such as the Bankhead Tunnel in Downtown Mobile, were closed, and sandbags were placed at the entrance to the tunnels to prevent them from flooding.

A restaurant in the middle of Mobile Bay, in nearby Spanish Fort, Alabama, cleaned out its lowest floor to prevent tables and chairs from washing away in the flooding and damaging other parts of the restaurant

Then, early Saturday evening, Nate made its first of two landfalls near the mouth of the Mississippi River, located in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.

At 12:35 a.m. Sunday, the Category 1 hurricane made a second landfall east of Biloxi. Nate is the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As this happened, Matt Breland, a senior Mississippi State University broadcast meteorology major from Hattiesburg, was one of several meteorology students who chased the storm. Breland said it was an exciting experience.

“It was very adventurous, very exciting,” Breland said. “We were able to get a really good grasp on how the storm was passing through the Gulfport area.”

While the winds were not as strong as those in the previous three U.S. hurricanes (i.e. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria), the strongest wind gust from Nate was reported in Biloxi at 70 mph, the main threat from this storm was the storm surge.

This threat manifested itself when a surge of 11 feet was reported near Pascagoula. Other totals included nearly 8 feet of water in Gautier and over 7 feet in Ocean Springs.

Unlike Harvey, rainfall was not as big of a concern, for the “steering flow” available to the storm caused it to move in a northerly direction at 28 mph.

However, since the heaviest rain was on the eastern side of the storm, as is the case for most hurricanes, places as far away from the center as Crestview, Florida received over 10 inches of rain, while New Orleans, which was much closer to the center, only received less than one inch of rain.

The slightly lower wind speeds enabled storm chasers such as Breland to experience the eye wall of the storm. Breland said this was the most exciting part of his experience.

“Once we got in [the eye wall], we started seeing the storm surge pass through,” Breland said, “We were able to experience stronger winds and more of the power of the storm.”

Despite the heavy rain, high winds and storm surge, Breland said the most nerve-wracking part had nothing to do with the storm itself, but rather getting in trouble with the law.

“We were worried that the cops were going to tell us to go inside because there was a curfew (for Gulfport),” Breland said.

When all was said and done on the Gulf Coast, no one was killed due to the storm. However, $2.5 billion in damages were reported. 

Officials on the Gulf Coast, however, say the storm damage was not as bad as Katrina, not only due to the lesser intensity but also due to the improved building codes implemented since Katrina.

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Hurricane Nate lashes Mississippi Gulf Coast; Students chase storm