Gov. John Bel Edwards said Saturday that Hurricane Nate is gaining strength as it moves quickly across the Gulf of Mexico and is supposed to make landfall as a Category 2 storm.

"You always prepare for a higher category than that," Edwards said at a noon press conference. "We're asking everyone to prepare for a Category 3."

The storm will move through quickly — on Saturday it was moving at 26 mph — but is "still a dangerous storm, nonetheless," he said.

The state is asking that everyone "be where they need to be by 3 p.m. Saturday."

Also, every area under an evacuation order has a shelter open in their parish, he said. Residents can call their parish office of emergency preparedness for details.

Edwards said he spoke with the head of FEMA as well as with President Trump Saturday morning, who both said they would do whatever possible to assist the state.

"We will be experiencing tropical force winds at the mouth of the Mississippi at 4 p.m. today" with landfall at the same spot at 7 p.m., he said.

This will be a nighttime event, Edwards said. "Do not drive at night time," he said.

Storm surge will be higher than originally expected, he said. The wind speed is about 10 to 15 miles per hour stronger than it was on Friday, the governor said.

Three quarters of deaths in storms have to do with water, he said, often with people driving at night.

"No one should take this storm lightly. We are extremely concerned that no one be complacent," he said.

The most recent update had the storm shifting back to the west slightly, he said, and is subject to change.

Edwards said he supported the organizers of the Flambeau Fest in Gonzales for cancelling the event today. It will continue tomorrow. 

"I do encourage everyone to go to" for help in planning for the storm, he said.

Please go to for other updates, Edwards said.

About 1,300 National Guard are on duty in the state, including soldiers with high water vehicles staged in East Baton Rouge Parish. About 60 school buses are in various places in south Louisiana, ready to evacuate if needed, it was reported 

"We don't anticipate any real challenges in New Orleans," Edwards said. 

The pumping situation there is better than it has been in the last few months and actually better than in the last two years, he said.

"I'm going to encourage all Louisianians to stay informed. Don't drive tonight. Be where you need to be at 3 p.m. today," Edwards said. "Be prepared, offer a prayer, and we will be in good shape."

"No one can afford to underestimate this storm, which has already been deadly elsewhere," he said.

In other news, Meg Sunstrom, of the Secretary of State's Office said that early voting would be suspended at 3 p.m. Saturday in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Plaquemines parishes. Elsewhere, it will continue until 6 p.m.

Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.