Tropical Storm Nate is strengthening as it hurtles towards Mexico and the US.
It currently has maximum sustained winds of 45mph and is moving at 12mph in a northwesterly direction.
The NOAA said in its 2am update: “On the forecast track, the center of Nate will move over the Gulf of Honduras and across the northwestern Caribbean Sea today, and reach the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula Friday evening.
“Nate will then move into the southern Gulf of Mexico Friday night and approach the northern Gulf coast Saturday evening.
“Data from the reconnaissance plane and a NOAA buoy indicate that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 45 mph (75 km/h) with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and Nate is expected to become a hurricane by the time it reaches the central Gulf of Mexico.”
1.45am EDT: Storm surge and hurricane warnings issued for US states
Louisiana, Alabama and Florida are in the firing line of “life-threatening” surges as Tropical Storm Nate strengthens before becoming a hurricane, forecasters predict.
Cities including New Orleans have been warned to prepare for Hurricane conditions by America’s National Hurricane Center (NHC).
NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said: “The threat of the impact is increasing, so folks along the northern Gulf Coast should be paying attention to this thing.”
12.20am EDT: Deadly storm to hit New Orleans Sunday as Texas warned to prepare
Storm’s predicted path will lead it to hit New Orleans at around 2am on Sunday, forecasters predict.
Meteorologist Brittney Bryant tweeted: “Tropical Storm Nate is expected to make landfall just east of New Orleans on Sunday morning as a Cat 1 hurricane.”
Nate will strengthen becoming a Category 1 hurricane before making smashing into the southern coast of the US on Sunday, forecasters predict.
Residents in Florida and Texas have been warned to prepare for the storm to hit.
A state of emergency has been declared across 29 counties in Florida and in New Orleans.