MEXICO CITY (AP) - The Latest on Tropical Storm Nate (all times local):
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency as his state prepares for a direct hit from Tropical Storm Nate, possibly as a hurricane.
The governor said 1,300 National Guard troops are being mobilized, with 15 headed to New Orleans to monitor the fragile pumping system there.
With forecasts projecting landfall in southeast Louisiana Sunday morning, Edwards urged residents to ready for rainfall, storm surge and severe winds - and to be where they intend to hunker down by "dark on Saturday."
Louisiana's governor says Nate is forecast to move quickly, rather than stall, and drop tremendous amounts of rain on the state. State officials hope that means New Orleans won't run into problems with its pumps being able to handle the water.
Edwards warned, however, against underestimating the storm.
A U.S. federal agency says oil and gas companies have begun evacuating production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico in anticipation of Tropical Storm Nate.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement's New Orleans office said in a news release that as of midday Thursday, six production platforms, out of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf, had been evacuated. No drilling rigs were evacuated, but one moveable rig was taken out of the storm's path.
The agency estimated less than 15 percent of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in, which equates to 254,607 barrels of oil per day.
Nate formed in the Caribbean Sea Thursday and was expected to be in the Gulf by Saturday morning.
Authorities in Costa Rica have raised that country's death toll blamed on flooding fed by Tropical Storm Nate to seven and say 15 others are missing.
Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Organism updated the toll from an earlier two on Thursday.
President Luis Guillermo Solis said earlier that more than 5,000 residents were being housed in shelters due to flooding.
Tropical Storm Nate, which formed Thursday off the coast of Nicaragua, is forecast to impact the U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend as a hurricane.
Nicaragua's Vice President Rosario Murillo says 15 people have died in flooding across the country related to Tropical Storm Nate. That raises the newly formed storm's death toll already to at least 17 across Central America.
Murrillo didn't give details Thursday, on all the deaths, but she said two women and a man who worked for the Health Ministry were swept away by a flooded canal in the central municipality of Juigalpa.
Costa Rica's President Luis Guillermo Solis has blamed two deaths in that country on the storm.
The storm is hitting the area following days of other heavy rains.
Residents in part of Louisana's coastal St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans have been ordered to evacuate as the state prepares for Tropical Storm Nate, which forecasters said could hit the area this weekend as a hurricane.
The evacuation for areas outside of the parish levee system was set to begin at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, a voluntary evacuation was called in the barrier island town of Grand Isle south of New Orleans.
Meanwhile, New Orleans, officials outlined steps being taken to bolster the city's pump and drainage system. Weaknesses in that system were revealed during summer flash floods.
In Baton Rouge, Gov. John Bel Edwards planned to meet with state emergency officials in the afternoon, prior to a news conference.
Tropical Storm Nate has formed off the coast of Nicaragua and is on a forecast track that shows it eventually approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Nate's maximum sustained winds Thursday morning are near 40 mph (65 kph) and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says strengthening is likely as the storm moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea Thursday night and Friday.
The storm is centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) south Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, and is moving northwest near 8 mph (13 kph). The storm's current forecast track shows it possibly approaching the Gulf Coast over the weekend as a hurricane.
A tropical depression developing off the coast of Nicaragua is expected to dump heavy rains on parts of Central America before strengthening into a hurricane that could touch Mexico and eventually reach the U.S. mainland, forecasters and officials said.
Mexico's government issued a hurricane watch from Punta Herrero to Cabo Catoche in the state of Quintana Roo with the storm expected to reach the resort-dotted stretch of coast late Friday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
The long-term forecast showed the storm reaching the U.S. Gulf coast as a hurricane by Sunday.
The tropical depression had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was located about 95 miles (155 kilometers) south-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua late Wednesday night. It was moving northwest at 6 mph (9 kph), the hurricane center said.
The center said 15 to 20 inches (38 to 50 centimeters) of rain were expected across parts of Nicaragua, with strong and possibly dangerous rains also likely in Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama. The storm was projected to cross into the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.