Strengthening Delta turns into a Cat 2 hurricane, and is on track toward Gulf Coast
Hurricane Delta rapidly intensified into a Category 2 hurricane early Tuesday and is still on track to make landfall on the northern U.S. Gulf Coast later this week, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasters expect Delta will pick up its pace and turn into a powerful Category 3 hurricane sometime Tuesday as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba. It might see some weakening if it makes landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula, before re-entering into the Gulf of Mexico where conditions “look ripe for re-intensification,” according to the hurricane center.
Delta could even strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane briefly in the open waters as it continues on track toward the U.S. Gulf Coast, possibly Louisiana. The storm is expected to weaken back to a Cat 2 hurricane in the slightly cooler waters before making landfall somewhere along the northern U.S. Gulf Coast although forecasters warn that there is still a “large uncertainty” in its track and forecast.
What forecasters say they do know is that Delta could bring dangerous storm surge, wind and hazardous rainfall anywhere from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle beginning Thursday night or Friday. The potential for heavy rain and flash flooding will also increase across portions of the central Gulf Coast, Tennessee Valley, and southeastern United States as Delta moves inland later this week.
“Residents in these areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and monitor updates to the forecast of Delta.”
Where is Hurricane Delta now?
Delta is quickly moving toward the west-northwest and was about 420 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and about 125 miles south of Grand Cayman early Tuesday, according to the hurricane center.
Data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that its maximum sustained winds have increased to nearly 100 mph with higher gusts.
The northern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and extreme western Cuba will likely see a dangerous storm surge and hurricane conditions beginning Tuesday night.
If the storm crosses the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday morning, as is forecast, it would be the second storm to cross the region mere days after Tropical Storm Gamma killed at least six people.
Hurricane Delta Watches/Warnings
▪ The government of Mexico has extended the hurricane warning westward along the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula to Dzilam.
▪ A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Cayman Islands including Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, the Cuba province of Pinar del Rio, Isle of Youth, Punta Herrero to Tulum, Dzilam to Progreso, Mexico.
▪ A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Cuba province of Havana.