Hurricane Delta Continues To Strengthen On A Path Toward Louisiana
The storm could reach Category 3 strength before making landfall in west-central Louisiana on Friday.
Smaller but powerful Hurricane Delta continues to track northwest in the Gulf of Mexico before making its expected turn to the east later Thursday ahead of an anticipated Friday landfall in Louisiana.
Portions of Louisiana are under a hurricane warning, and storm surge warnings range into Mississippi as Delta is poised to produce hurricane-force winds, powerful storm surge, and up to 5-10 inches of rain – with maximum of 15 inches possible in isolated areas.
Delta strengthened overnight into a Category 2 storm with top sustained winds of 100 mph. As of Thursday afternoon, Delta was located about 370 miles south of Cameron, La., and moving to the northwest at 13 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Further strengthening is forecast, and Delta could reach Category 3 strength by Friday morning.
Forecasters say Delta will turn to the north later Thursday and begin its north-northeastward turn toward Louisiana by Friday.
The forecast cone from the hurricane center has narrowed a bit, and Delta is now forecast to make landfall Friday afternoon somewhere in west-central Louisiana, and possibly extreme eastern Texas.
"Delta is expected to be the record-setting 10th named storm to make landfall on the U.S. coast this season,” said Ray Hawthorne, a meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network. “The greatest surges of 7 to 11 feet above dry ground are expected in Louisiana, but high surf are rip currents are likely as far east as the Florida Panhandle beaches."
Hawthorne said outer fringe rain bands are expected over the Florida Panhandle on Saturday and then into Georgia and the Carolinas on Sunday as Delta's center passes into the Tennessee Valley.
It’s the sixth time this 2020 Atlantic hurricane season that Louisiana has been within a forecast cone.
Hurricane Laura devastated Lake Charles in late August as a Category 4 storm, and Tropical Storm Cristobal produced heavy flooding in June.
Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network and the Associated Press was used in this report.