Tropical Storm Nate's winds rapidly weaken over Alabama

BILOXI, Miss., Oct 8 (Reuters) - Hurricane Nate weakened to a tropical depression on Sunday after coming ashore in Mississippi as the fourth hurricane to hit the United States this year, flooding roads and buildings but sparing the state from catastrophic damages.

As the storm moved northeast into Alabama, Nate's maximum sustained winds dropped to 35 miles per hour (55 km per hour), prompting the National Hurricane Center to end its tropical storm warnings for the region. The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, the weakest designation by the center. Only a few hours earlier, its winds had been blowing at 70 mph but appeared to lack the devastating punch of its recent predecessors.

"We are very fortunate this morning and have been blessed," Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant told reporters, saying there had been no deaths or reports of catastrophic damage.

The fourth major storm to strike the United States in less than two months, Nate killed at least 30 people in Central America before entering the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and bearing down on the U.S. South. It has also shut down most oil and gas production in the Gulf.

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Tropical Storm Nate ravages Central America
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Tropical Storm Nate ravages Central America
Dogs sit on the shore of the Masachapa river, flooded by heavy rains by Tropical Storm Nate in the outskirts of Managua, Nicaragua October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
People in a neighborhood are evacuated due to the danger of a mudslide during heavy rains by Tropical Storm Nate in Alajuelita, Costa Rica October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate
The flooded Tiribi river is seen during heavy rains of Tropical Storm Nate that affects the country in San Jose, Costa Rica October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate
A resident watches the rising waves in Masachapa beach during heavy rains due to Tropical Storm Nate in the city of Masachapa, about 60km from the city of Managua on October 5, 2017. A tropical storm sliding north along Central America Thursday has unleashed heavy rains killing at least nine people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with forecasters predicting it could strengthen into a hurricane headed for the United States. / AFP PHOTO / INTI OCON (Photo credit should read INTI OCON/AFP/Getty Images)
A men cleans a street flooded by Tiribi river during heavy rains of Tropical Storm Nate that affects the country in San Jose, Costa Rica October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate
Residents look at the floodings of the Masachapa River following the passage of Tropical Storm Nate in the city of Masachapa, about 60km from the city of Managua on October 5, 2017. A tropical storm sliding north along Central America Thursday has unleashed heavy rains killing at least nine people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with forecasters predicting it could strengthen into a hurricane headed for the United States. / AFP PHOTO / INTI OCON (Photo credit should read INTI OCON/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents look at the floodings of the Masachapa River following the passage of Tropical Storm Nate in the city of Masachapa, about 60km from the city of Managua on October 5, 2017. A tropical storm sliding north along Central America Thursday has unleashed heavy rains killing at least nine people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with forecasters predicting it could strengthen into a hurricane headed for the United States. / AFP PHOTO / INTI OCON (Photo credit should read INTI OCON/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers clear rubble from a road following the passage of Tropical Storm Nate in the city of El Crucero, about 20km from the city of Managua on October 5, 2017. A tropical storm sliding north along Central America Thursday has unleashed heavy rains killing at least nine people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with forecasters predicting it could strengthen into a hurricane headed for the United States. / AFP PHOTO / INTI OCON (Photo credit should read INTI OCON/AFP/Getty Images)
Dogs stand near on a road partially collapsed by heavy rains of Tropical Storm Nate that affects the country in El Llano de Alajuelita, Costa Rica October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate
A resident look at damage caused by heavy rains of Tropical Storm Nate on Masachapa river in outskirts of Managua, Nicaragua October 5,2017.REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
A resident stands on the shore of the Masachapa river, flooded by heavy rains by Tropical Storm Nate in the outskirts of Managua, Nicaragua October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
Mayor's workers repairs Pan-American highway damaged by heavy rains by tropical storm Nate in Rivas, Nicaragua October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
A damaged boat is pictured on the shore of San Juan del Sur Bay after tropical storm Nate in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua October 6,2017.REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
Local residents cross a river flooded by heavy rains by Tropical Storm Nate in Nandaime town, Nicaragua October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
People in a neighborhood are evacuated due to the danger of a mudslide during heavy rains by Tropical Storm Nate in Alajuelita, Costa Rica October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate
View of damages caused by the passage of Tropical Storm Nate, near Goascoran, in Valle department, Honduras on October 6, 2017. Tropical Storm Nate gained strength as it headed toward popular Mexican beach resorts and ultimately the US Gulf coast after dumping heavy rains in Central America that left at least 22 people dead. / AFP PHOTO / ORLANDO SIERRA (Photo credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
A boy collects wood from a damaged, stranded boat in San Juan del Sur beach, following the passage of Tropical Storm Nate, in Rivas some 140km from Managua, Nicaragua, on October 6, 2017 Tropical Storm Nate gained strength as it headed toward popular Mexican beach resorts and ultimately the US Gulf coast after dumping heavy rains in Central America that left at least 22 people dead. / AFP PHOTO / INTI OCON (Photo credit should read INTI OCON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Nate follows hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which have devastated areas of the Caribbean and the southern United States.

The tropical depression's center will move up through Alabama into Tennessee and Kentucky through Monday, the National Hurricane Center said. Heavy rainfall and storm surge flooding remained a danger across the region, and the center said Florida's Panhandle and parts of Alabama and Georgia might feel tropical storm-force wind gusts.

Nate made its first U.S. landfall on Saturday evening near the mouth of the Mississippi River and then made a second one early on Sunday near Biloxi, Mississippi.

Flood waters swept over streets in communities across Alabama and Mississippi, including over Highway 90 and to oceanside casinos in Biloxi, according to reports on social media.

Jeff Pickich, a 46-year-old wine salesman from D'Iberville, Mississippi, was counting his blessings. Heavy winds left only minor damage, blowing down part of a fence on his rental property in Biloxi.

"I'm just glad," he said, digging fresh holes for fence posts. "I was afraid of the water. The water is Mother Nature. You can't stop it."

Water flowed through Ursula Staten's yard in Biloxi, pushing over part of her fence and scattering debris, but did not breach her house.

"I have a mess," the retired massage therapist said. "If we had got Irma, I would have lost everything."

On Saturday, states of emergency were declared in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, as well as in more than two dozen Florida counties. Florida Governor Rick Scott warned of tornadoes springing up in the Panhandle region.

In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey urged residents in areas facing heavy winds and storm surges to take precautions. U.S. President Donald Trump declared federal emergencies in Alabama and Florida on Sunday, which provides additional funding for disaster relief.

About 47,000 customers were without power in Mississippi, while more than 1,000 people had arrived at shelters, the state Emergency Management Agency said.

Utility Alabama Power said some 82,000 customers were without electricity.

Rainfall of 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm), with a maximum of 10 inches, were expected east of the Mississippi River in Alabama and Tennessee, the NHC said.

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Hurricane Nate hits the US Gulf Coast
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Hurricane Nate hits the US Gulf Coast
BILOXI,MS-OCTOBER 7, 2017: The eye of Hurricane Nate pushes ashore at a category 1 storm in Biloxi, Mississippi October 7, 2017. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
BILOXI,MS-OCTOBER 8, 2017: Lanny Dean, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, takes video as he wades along a flooded Beach Boulevard next to Harrahs Casino as the eye of Hurricane Nate pushes ashore in Biloxi, Mississippi October 8, 2017. Hurricane Nate flooded the parking garage and first floors of Golden Nugget, Harrahs and other casinos as it made a second landfall on the Mississippi coast as a category 1 storm. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
BILOXI,MS-OCTOBER 8, 2017: Lanny Dean, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, takes video as he wades along a flooded Beach Boulevard next to Harrahs Casino as the eye of Hurricane Nate pushes ashore in Biloxi, Mississippi October 8, 2017. Hurricane Nate flooded the parking garage and first floors of Golden Nugget, Harrahs and other casinos as it made a second landfall on the Mississippi coast as a category 1 storm. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
BILOXI,MS-OCTOBER 8, 2017: Lanny Dean, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, takes video as he wades along a flooded Beach Boulevard next to Harrahs Casino as the eye of Hurricane Nate pushes ashore in Biloxi, Mississippi October 8, 2017. Hurricane Nate flooded the parking garage and first floors of Golden Nugget, Harrahs and other casinos as it made a second landfall on the Mississippi coast as a category 1 storm. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
BILOXI,MS-OCTOBER 8, 2017: Hurricane Nate flooded Beach Boulevard next to Harrahs Casino as the eye of Hurricane Nate pushes ashore in Biloxi, Mississippi on October 8, 2017. Hurricane Nate flooded the parking garage and first floors of Golden Nugget, Harrahs and other casinos as it made a second landfall on the Mississippi coast as a category 1 storm. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
GULFPORT,MS-OCTOBER 7, 2017: Kevin and Stacy Marlow, from Vaiden, Mississippi, search for driftwood on the beach ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Nate as night falls in Gulfport, Mississippi on October 7, 2017 in Gulfport, Mississippi. Hurricane Nate is expected to make landfall on the Mississippi Gulf coast near midnight local time. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
BILOXI,MS-OCTOBER 7, 2017: The Mississippi Gaming Commission closed the 12 casinos in south Mississippi including the Hard Rock in Biloxi, Mississippi ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Nate on October 7, 2017 in Biloxi, Mississippi. .Hurricane Nate is expected to make landfall on the Mississippi Gulf coast near midnight local time. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
MOBILE,AL-OCTOBER 7, 2017: Traffic streams east over Mobile Bay which is under a hurricane warning as Hurricane Nate approaches the northern Gulf Coast on October 7, 2017 in Mobile , Alabama. Nate is expected to make landfall in the overnight hours as a category 2 storm. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
PASS CHRISTIAN,MS-OCTOBER 7, 2017: Charles Jackson, front, Immanuel Hubbard, center and Rober Butler board up Mother Cluckers at the Pass Christian Port Harbor Marina as Hurricane Nate approaches the northern Mississippi Gulf Coast October 7, 2017 in Pass Christian, Mississippi.. Nate is expected to make landfall in the overnight hours as a category 2 storm. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Storm clouds hang over downtown New Orleans as Hurricane Nate moves into Souther Louisiana on October 7, 2017. Residents in three states along the US Gulf Coast scrambled to complete preparations Saturday ahead of Hurricane Nate as officials warned conditions would turn treacherous after sunset. Nate was forecast to arrive late Saturday as a Category Two hurricane, packing winds topping 90 miles per hour as it churned in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm killed at least 28 people in Central America. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan Tarnowski (Photo credit should read BRYAN TARNOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Business owners board up their restaurant in the French Quarter as Hurricane Nate approaches the U.S. Gulf Coast in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Jackson Square is seen empty in the French Quarter as Hurricane Nate approaches the U.S. Gulf Coast in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. on October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
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NEW ORLEANS THREAT DOWNGRADED

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu lifted a curfew on Saturday evening that was originally scheduled to last until Sunday morning. He said in a statement on social media, however, that there was still a serious threat of storm surge outside levee areas.

Bernice Barthelemy, a 70-year-old Louisiana resident, died from cardiac arrest overnight after telling Reuters on Saturday that she did not mind having to evacuate, Plaquemines Parish President Amos Cormier said on Sunday. He attributed her death to the stress of the move.

The ports of New Orleans in Louisiana and Mobile in Alabama remained closed, and refineries and port authorities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, were reviewing when they could reopen.

The storm curtailed 92 percent of daily oil production and 77 percent of daily natural gas output in the Gulf of Mexico, more than three times the amount affected by Harvey.

Workers were evacuated from 301 platforms and 13 rigs as of Saturday, said the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The storm doused Central America with heavy rains on Thursday, killing at least 16 people in Nicaragua, 10 in Costa Rica, two in Honduras and two in El Salvador.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Biloxi and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New Orleans; Additional reporting by Chris Kenning, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Oswaldo Rivas in Managua, Vanessa Johnston in Biloxi, Mississippi, Erwin Seba and Gary McWilliams in Houston, and Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Lisa Von Ahn)

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