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Ports from New Orleans to Pensacola, Florida, closed to shipping ahead of Hurricane Nate

Hurricane Nate@

HOUSTON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Major shipping ports across the central U.S. Gulf Coast were closed to inbound and outbound traffic on Saturday as Hurricane Nate intensified and storm surges of up to 9 feet were expected.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday ordered port condition Zulu in effect beginning at 8 a.m. local time for New Orleans; Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; and Pensacola and Panama City, Florida. The storm is expected to strike the U.S. coast on Saturday night, the National Hurricane Center said.

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)