WASHINGTON (CBS) Tropical storm Nate is swirling and strengthening, after drenching Central America with up to 20 inches of rain.
NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center
The storm is being blamed for at least 22 deaths there, and the National Hurricane Center predicts Nate is headed toward the gulf coast next. Forecasters expect Nate to strengthen over the Caribbean Sea and possibly hit the gulf coast near New Orleans this weekend as a hurricane.
Residents in Louisiana, where the Governor has already declared a state of emergency, are stocking up on supplies.
"Right now, to the citizens of New Orleans, there is no need to panic but there is reason to prepare," said New Orleans mayor, Mitchy Landrieu.
Officials hope if the storm hits New Orleans, it moves quickly so pumps aren't overwhelmed with problems.
"If this storm slows down, there's a greater chance it's going to go a little further to the east," said Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Coastal areas have been ordered to evacuate, 1,300 National Guard troops are mobilizing, and officials are warning people to prepare.
FEMA says because hurricane tracks are tricky, it's monitoring the storm from texas, atlanta, miami, and from its headquarters in dc.
Forecasters were also watching another tropical storm, Ramon, in the pacific, but the storm has dissipated off the coast of Mexico.