Hurricane Delta has rapidly intensified into a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir Simpson wind scale, an amazing achievement for a system that wasn’t even classified as a tropical cyclone yet yesterday morning. This extremely dangerous hurricane is headed to the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula for Wednesday and then is expected to strike the United States Gulf coast by the end of the week.
As of the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Hurricane Delta, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, was located roughly 420 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico and about 125 miles south of Grand Cayman. It was moving to the west-northwest at 15 mph with a minimum central pressure of 968 mb or 28.59 inches.
With Hurricane Delta gaining more strength and headed to the Yucatan Peninsula now, the government of Mexico has extended the Hurricane Warning westward along the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula to Dzilam; it is now up from Tulum to Dzilam and includes Cozumel. A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
Delta is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph but a faster northwestward motion is expected to begin later today through Wednesday night, according to experts at the National Hurricane Center. On the forecast track, the center of Delta is expected to pass southwest of the Cayman Islands this morning, and move over the northeastern portion of the Yucatan peninsula 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.
Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Delta is expected to be a major hurricane over the Yucatan Peninsula Wednesday and over the Gulf of Mexico through Thursday.
Later this week, Delta is expected to bring heavy rainfall to portions of the central Gulf Coast, Tennessee Valley, and southeastern United States. No watches or warnings are up yet for the United States due to Delta, but that is likely to change later in the week. Delta is currently forecast to make landfall along the Louisiana coast Saturday morning. When it does so, it will shatter the record for most landfalling storms in an Atlantic hurricane season. While Louisiana appears to be the prime target for now, forecasters caution that accuracy isn’t necessarily that high this far out from landfall. As such, residents along the U.S. Gulf Coast should closely monitor the evolution of Delta and begin to take action to prepare for it in the coming days.