TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hurricane Delta reached major Category 3 strength once again Thursday evening as it continued its trek over the Gulf of Mexico and toward the northern Gulf Coast.
As of 4 p.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center says Delta has maximum sustained winds of 115 mph with some higher gusts. It’s about 345 miles south of Cameron, Louisiana and moving northwest at about 12 mph.
The hurricane will begin to turn north and then jog northeast just as it approaches the coast of Louisiana. Environmental conditions are favorable for strengthening over the next 24 hours and the NHC forecast calls for further intensification through Friday morning. Just before landfall, which is forecast Friday evening, Delta may weaken some as strong upper-level winds begin to affect the storm but the extent of weakening is uncertain.
Louisiana is still recovering from Hurricane Laura, which ravaged the southwestern region as it roared ashore as a Category 4 storm in August. More than 6,600 Laura evacuees remain in hotels around the state, mainly in New Orleans, because their homes are too heavily damaged to return.
According to the latest NHC advisory, Delta is expected to grow in size as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast, where life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are likely beginning Friday. There will also be a low threat for isolated, quick-spin up tornadoes on the eastern side of the storm. Significant flash, urban, small stream and minor to isolated moderate river flooding is likely Friday and Saturday from portions of the central Gulf Coast into portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley. As Delta moves farther inland, heavy rainfall is expected in the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic this weekend.
Storm Surge Warning in effect for:
- High Island, Texas to Ocean Springs, Mississippi including Calcasieu Lake, Vermilion Bay, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Lake Borgne
Hurricane Warning in effect for:
- High Island, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana
Tropical Storm Warning in effect for:
- West of High Island to Sargent, Texas
- East of Morgan City, Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River including New Orleans
- Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas
Tropical Storm Watch in effect for:
- East of the mouth of the Pearl River to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Delta emerged back over the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday shortly after making landfall just south of the Mexican resort of Cancun, toppling trees and cutting power to residents of the Yucatan peninsula’s resort-studded coast.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Delta made landfall along the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, near Puerto Morelos, around 6:30 a.m. ET Wednesday. It was a category 2 hurricane at landfall with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph.