Category 2 Hurricane Delta Is Closing In On Louisiana
Hurricane Delta strengthened overnight, and is now a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.
Hurricane Delta continues to zero in on Louisiana as a powerful Category 2 storm ahead of its anticipated landfall in southwest Louisiana by Friday afternoon or evening.
Delta strengthened over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters overnight, and though it has weakened slightly as it approaches land, it has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph with higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Delta is forecast to move over somewhat cooler waters and underneath stronger upper-level winds which were expected cause the weakening.
Still, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Delta will be strong enough to produce hurricane-force winds in southwest and south-central Louisiana. Many of these areas experienced Category 4 hurricane winds in late August associated with Hurricane Laura. These communities are still recovering and are more vulnerable to widespread tropical storm and hurricane winds associated with Delta.
Hurricane warnings are in effect from High Island, Texas, to Morgan City, La., and all of coastal Louisiana is under a storm surge warning as Delta could generate up to 5-8 inches of storm surge in some areas.
As of Friday afternoon, Delta was located about 80 miles south-southwest of Cameron, La., and moving north-northeast at 14 mph. It is expected to continue on this path before turning more to the northeast by Friday night after moving onto land.
It is expected to be a record-breaking 10th landfall of a named storm on the U.S. coastline.
Ray Hawthorne, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, says Delta could weaken some before making landfall.
“Delta is likely to weaken somewhat (Friday) as it moves over cooler waters near the coast, but it’s expected to be a formidable hurricane when it makes landfall,” Hawthorne said. “The forecast track takes it within mere miles of Hurricane Laura’s path in late August, so many of the same areas are expected to experience strong winds and surge again from Delta.
Forecasters with the hurricane center say the storm could dump anywhere from 5-10 inches of rain, with maximum totals of 15 inches possible in isolated areas from southwest into central Louisiana.
Tropical storm winds are expected for metropolitan New Orleans, where tropical storm warnings are in effect.
A few tornadoes may develop within rain bands over Louisiana and Mississippi on Friday. A few gusty squalls along with the possibility of waterspouts and brief tornadoes are possible into the western Florida Panhandle on Saturday and then into the Carolinas on Sunday from the remnant of Delta.
High Surf Advisories were in effect through Saturday for the Florida Panhandle. A high risk of rip currents will make for dangerous swimming conditions in the Panhandle and as far east as the west coast of Florida from the Tampa/St. Petersburg areas southward to Fort Myers this weekend.
Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.