After an incredible rapid intensification phase, Major Hurricane Delta now has maximum sustained winds of 145 mph and is headed for portions of the Yucatan Peninsula; beyond there, it is expected to eventually strike the U.S. coast as a hurricane. With the probability of a significant direct strike likely on the U.S. coast, the National Hurricane Center says it is likely they will begin issuing Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches for portions of the Gulf Coast beginning tomorrow ahead of the weekend landfall threat.
In the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Major Hurricane Delta was located near 18.9N, 84.1W, which puts the center roughly 215 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico and about 240 miles east-southeast of Tulum, Mexico. The storm, which ranks as a destructive category 4 storm on the Saffir Simpson wind scale, is moving to the west-northwest at 17 mph with a minimum central pressure of 956 mb or 28.23 inches.
The government of Mexico has Hurricane Warnings up from Tulum to Dzilam and for Cozumel.
Delta is forecast to approach the U.S. coast line on Friday, with landfall possible late Friday or early Saturday. For now, Delta is moving toward the west-northwest near 17 mph and a west-northwestward to northwestward motion is expected over the next couple of days. According to the National Hurricane Center, a slower northwestward to north-northwestward motion is forecast to begin on Thursday, and a northward motion is expected Thursday night and Friday. On the forecast track, the center of Delta will move over the northeastern portion of the Yucatan peninsula late tonight or early Wednesday. Delta is forecast to move over the southern Gulf of Mexico Wednesday afternoon, and be over the southern or central Gulf of Mexico through Thursday, and approach the northern Gulf coast on Friday.
Some additional strengthening is possible before the center reaches the coast Yucatan peninsula Wednesday and Delta could become a catastrophic category 5 storm. Although some weakening is likely when Delta moves over the Yucatan peninsula, re-strengthening is forecast when the hurricane moves over the southern Gulf of Mexico Wednesday night and Thursday. Hurricane Delta is expected to continue to be a major hurricane with winds over 110 mph as it enters the central Gulf.