Hurricane Delta Weaker After Leaving Yucatán Coast, But Could Hit U.S. As Major Storm
Hurricane Delta made landfall on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula as a Category 2 storm around 6:30 a.m. ET, bringing winds estimated at 110 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. The hurricane has weakened, but it's expected to regain some power before approaching the Gulf Coast on Friday.
Delta is currently crossing just west of Cancun, moving northwest at 17 mph, the hurricane center said in its 8 a.m. ET update. Parts of the peninsula are experiencing a life-threatening storm surge and strong winds, the center added.
The hurricane made landfall near Puerto Morelos — due north of the island of Cozumel and roughly halfway between the resort hotspots of Playa del Carmen and Cancún.
Describing current conditions, Mexico's national meteorological service says Delta is causing waves from 5 to 9 meters high (roughly 16 to nearly 30 feet) in northern Quintana Roo.
The storm's winds have fallen to 105 mph as its center crosses over land, but forecasters warn that it will restrengthen when it returns to the Gulf of Mexico's warm waters — and Delta could become a Category 4 hurricane again by late Thursday.
Delta is forecast to hit Louisiana's coast, which has already absorbed a harsh blow from Hurricane Laura – one of several large storms that have made landfall on the Gulf Coast during a busy 2020 hurricane season. Portions of the northern Gulf Coast will likely start seeing hurricane and storm surge watches on Wednesday, to give residents two days to prepare for a possible emergency.
"There is an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds, especially along the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, beginning on Friday," the hurricane center said. "Residents in these areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow advice given by local officials."
Delta is predicted to start turning more toward the north than its current northwest track, curving back toward the east in a maneuver that the NHC currently predicts will take the storm between the Lake Charles and Baton Rouge areas of Louisiana. It would then cross Mississippi diagonally – dropping an enormous amount of rain and raising flash flood alarms along the way.
From Friday to Saturday, Delta is forecast to bring 4-8 inches of rain to areas from the Gulf Coast to parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley. Isolated totals up to 12 inches are also possible in some areas.
"Heavy rainfall will eventually spread into the Tennessee Valley, and interior southeastern United States this weekend into early next week," the hurricane center said.
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