MIAMI (AP) - The National Hurricane Center in Miami has issued a hurricane warning for metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.
The warning comes on top of one issued earlier Friday for the area between Grand Isle, Louisiana, and the Alabama-Florida border.
The NHC says Tropical Storm Nate was growing in strength and was expected to be a hurricane by the time it reaches the U.S. late Saturday or early Sunday.
Nate barreled through Central America earlier in the week, claiming at least 21 lives. It is expected to pass near or over the coast of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula late Friday.
Meanwhile, dozens of offshore oil and gas platforms and drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated as Tropical Storm Nate churns through warm waters on a high-speed path toward the Gulf Coast.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a news release that workers had been evacuated from 66 production platforms as of late Friday morning. That's nearly 9 percent of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf.
The bureau also said five rigs currently operating in the Gulf also had been evacuated, while 11 other rigs were moved out of the storm's path.
An estimated 71 percent of the Gulf's current oil production and 53 percent of its natural gas production has been "shut-in," or temporarily halted, due to the storm.
Offshore facilities will be inspected for damage once the storm passes.