Weakening Hurricane Nate brings burst of flooding, power outages

Weakening Hurricane Nate brings burst of flooding, power outages

Hurricane Nate brought a burst of flooding and power outages to the US Gulf Coast before weakening rapidly, sparing the region the kind of catastrophic damage wreaked by series of hurricanes that hit the southern US and Caribbean in recent weeks.

Nate — the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005 — quickly lost power, with its winds diminishing to a tropical depression as it pushed northward into Alabama and toward Georgia with heavy rains.

It was a category one hurricane at landfall outside the Mississippi city of Biloxi on the Gulf Coast early on Sunday local time.

The storm surge from the Mississippi Sound littered Biloxi's main beachfront highway with debris and flooded a casino's lobby and parking structure overnight.

By dawn, however, Nate's receding floodwaters did not reveal any obvious signs of widespread damage in the city where Hurricane Katrina had levelled thousands of beachfront homes and businesses.

Before Nate sped past Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula late on Friday and entered the Gulf of Mexico, it drenched Central America with rains that left at least 22 people dead.

Nate did not approach the intensity of other recent hurricanes that left behind death and destruction during this year's exceptionally busy hurricane season.

"We are thankful because this looked like it was going to be a freight train barrelling through the city," said Vincent Creel, a spokesman for the City of Biloxi.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the four hurricanes that have struck the US and its territories this year have "strained" resources, with roughly 85 per cent of the agency's forces deployed.

"We're still working [with] massive issues in Harvey, Irma, as well as the issues in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and now this one," FEMA administrator Brock Long said.

Power outages but no deaths reported

Nate initially made landfall on Saturday evening in Louisiana, but fears that the storm would overwhelm the fragile pumping system in New Orleans proved to be unfounded.

It passed to the east of New Orleans on Saturday night local time, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu lifted a curfew on the city known for its all-night partying.

More than 100,000 residents in Mississippi and Alabama were without power on Sunday morning, but no storm-related deaths or injuries were immediately reported in those states or in Louisiana.

At landfall in Mississippi, the fast-moving storm had maximum sustained winds near 140 kilometres per hour, the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami said.

In Alabama, the storm's rising water flooded homes and cars on the coast and inundated at least one major road in downtown Mobile.

At sunrise in Pensacola Beach, Florida, a small front-end loader scraped sand off a car park and returned it to the nearby beach.

Sand was also pushed up onto the decks of beachside bars and restaurants.

Officials rescued five people from two sailing boats in choppy waters before the storm.