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The storm, still dubbed Wednesday as Tropical Depression 16, could hit the Gulf Coast as a hurricane Sunday, though the exact path remains unclear, according to a National Hurricane Center forecast.

- Twenty-nine counties along the Gulf Coast and in North Florida were put under a state of emergency Thursday, as Florida prepares to feel impacts from Tropical Storm Nate, which was moving across northeastern Nicaragua. Tropical storm winds fall in the 39 miles per hour to 73 miles per hour category.

Heavy rainfall is also forecast in portions of Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama through Friday night. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to update their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon registration, and secure EPIRBs safely to vessels prior to a major storm.

Some good news once the storm moves inland is the beneficial rain it could bring to the interior eastern US next week, potentially easing abnormally dry and building drought conditions in some spots, AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rathbun said. D stands for tropical depression.

The system "definitely" poses a risk to US cotton-growing areas, particularly western portions of the Southeast including Alabama and Georgia, Donald Keeney, senior meteorologist with MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said in a phone interview.

Tropical storm warnings have also been issued for parts of the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras. Carnival Cruise Line has been heavily impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and now the Miami-based cruise line has at least one cruise ship impacted by Tropical Storm Nate. The latest track takes the storm northwest over the Yucatan Peninsula, then out to the center of the Gulf before gradually turning to the northeast. "I don't think you can ever be too prepared for a storm" said Hayward.

The GPM core observatory satellite passed above Tropical Depression 16 (forming tropical storm Nate) on October 5, 2017 at 5:46 a.m. EDT (0946 UTC).

The storm will be named "Nate" once it strengthens to tropical storm level.

FEMA notes that history shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly.

All mariners are urged to monitor weather information "and avoid coastal areas that may be impacted by the storm".

Beyond the Caribbean, Nate will move northward toward the United States upper Gulf of Mexico coast, where landfall is forecast as a hurricane on Sunday. Emergency management and public works officials from both governments still expect the cleanup of the hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of debris from Irma could last until November, if not December.