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Hurricane Delta aims for the Louisiana coast

The hurricane is forecast to regain some strength before landfall
Hurricane Delta - Wednesday, Oct. 7 - 5 p.m. advisory
Hurricane Delta - Wednesday, Oct. 7 - 5 p.m. advisory(WCTV)
Published: Oct. 4, 2020 at 12:29 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2020 at 10:49 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Hurricane Delta lost some steam after it made landfall early Wednesday morning, but it could restrengthen to a major hurricane before making landfall Friday.

Maximum sustained winds were at 85 mph as of the 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It was moving northwest at 17 mph with a minimum central pressure of 977 millibars.

Delta is expected to continue its northwestern trek through Thursday, then move north and northeastward and make landfall along the Louisiana coastline - roughly the same area that Hurricane Laura made landfall earlier in the hurricane season.

In the Big Bend and South Georgia, impacts will be very minimal as the storm is expected to stay far enough to the west. But there could be a chance of higher rip currents and surf in some area beaches over the next several days. And rain chances will increase during the end of the work week into the weekend.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Hurricane Delta made landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula Wednesday morning, bringing strong winds and heavy rain to the region. The hurricane is forecast to return to major-hurricane status before likely landfall in Louisiana Friday.

The storm was centered 35 miles west of Cancun, Mexico, according to the 8 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds were at 105 mph with a minimum central pressure of 974 millibars. Delta was moving northwest at 17 mph. The hurricane made landfall at 5:30 a.m. local time near Puerto Morelos, with estimated maximum sustained winds of 110 mph.

A northwesterly trek is forecast to turn more northward Thursday into Friday as it gets caught in a mid-level trough and moves on the western side of a ridge of high pressure to the east. It’s forecast to move more north-northeastward by Friday and make landfall in Louisiana potently as a major hurricane. By then, it will begin to feel the impacts of wind shear and cooler water temperatures.

Regardless of strength, it’s expected to bring heavy rain, storm surge, and hurricane-force winds to portions of the Gulf Coast near Delta. Farther east into the Big Bend and South Georgia, impacts are expected to be minimal. The biggest concern will be coastal issues, such as higher surf and a higher risk of riot currents.

Rain chances in the viewing area will increase starting Thursday to at least 40% increasing to as high as 70% on Saturday.

The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Delta.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Delta remained a dangerous hurricane as it aims for the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 4 Tuesday evening.

Maximum sustained winds increased to 145 mph as of the 5 p.m. Tuesday advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Delta was moving west-northwest at 17 mph as it was 215 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. The minimum central pressure was at 956 millibars. Hurricane-force winds extended out to 30 miles from the center of circulation while tropical-storm-force winds extended out to 105 miles. The National Hurricane Center warned in their discussion that guidance models “depict a significant increase in the size of Delta’s wind field while it is over the Gulf of Mexico, which increases the spatial extent of the storm surge and wind threats for the northern Gulf coast.”

The cone has sifted farther westward, minimizing the threat to the Big Bend and South Georgia. But Delta will increase the risk for coastal impacts including a high risk of rip currents and high surf.

The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Delta.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Hurricane Delta continued to intensify overnight Monday into Tuesday as it threatens the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Maximum sustained winds increased to 130 mph according to a special advisory issued at 11:20 a.m. Tuesday from the National Hurricane Center. The minimum central pressure continued to fall since Monday, and was at 954 millibars. It was moving west-northwest at a faster 16 mph as it was 315 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. Hurricane-force winds extend out to 25 miles from the center of circulation while tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 90 miles according to the full 11 a.m. advisory.

Satellite imagery of Hurricane Delta along with its position and past path Tuesday morning.
Satellite imagery of Hurricane Delta along with its position and past path Tuesday morning.(WCTV)

The hurricane continued to show signs of strengthening Tuesday morning as the storm became better organized and Hurricane Hunters found central pressure continuing to fall.

The official forecast has Delta maintaining major-hurricane status with maximum sustained winds as high as 140 mph by Wednesday as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula. But as it gets caught in an upper-level trough of low pressure later this week, it will not only move more northward, but also begin to weaken as it feels the impacts of wind shear. Also, water temperatures in the northern Gulf of Mexico are at or below average and the ocean heat content isn’t high compared to the Caribbean Sea.

Regardless of hurricane wind speed, the storm will bring a threat of heavy rain, inland flooding and storm surge.

The future path isn’t as clear cut. The ensemble members of three different global models (the American GFS, European and UKMet) differ on the path. The UKMet ensembles keep the storm more eastward, the GFS more in Louisiana, and the European in western Louisiana. The farther west Delta travels from the Big Bend and South Georgia the lower impacts to the area. The official forecast cone of uncertainty has shifted slightly west since the 8 a.m. Tuesday advisory.

Those along the Gulf Coast need to continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Delta.

This story was updated to reflect the information from the 11 a.m. and special 11:20 a.m. advisories from the National Hurricane Center.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Delta became a hurricane Monday evening as it continued to intensify.

Maximum sustained winds increased to 75 mph with a minimum central pressure of 980 millibars, according to the 8 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It was moving west-northwest at 8 mph as it was 150 miles south-southwest of Jamaica.

Delta is forecast to become a major hurricane as it enters the Gulf of Mexico mid week. The cone of uncertainty remains unchanged from the 5 p.m. advisory.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tropical Storm Delta was “rapidly strengthening” Monday afternoon based on Hurricane Hunter data according to the National Hurricane Center.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to 70 mph according to the Monday 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The center of Delta was around 160 miles south-southwest of Jamaica and was moving west at 8 mph. The minimum central pressure was at 983 millibars.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for the Cuba province of Pinar del Rio, Tulum to Rio Lagartos, Mexico and Cozumel.

Delta is forecast to reach the Yucatan Channel Tuesday afternoon or evening, according to the 5 p.m. advisory. It’s then forecast to enter the Gulf of Mexico as a major hurricane Wednesday. The official forecast has the storm pushing into the western Gulf of Mexico before turning northward Thursday and making landfall along the central Gulf Coast as early as Friday with winds slightly lower (but still a hurricane). The cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the northern Gulf of Mexico as well as wind shear will likely be limiting factors for intensity.

NOAA Hurricane Hunters flew from Central Florida to the center of Delta Monday afternoon and found a strengthening storm. Minimum central pressure was around 985 millibars during the first flight into the center of circulation. Given the above-average sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean Sea, further strengthening is anticipated.

The cone of uncertainty ranges from the Texas and Louisiana border eastward to near Destin, Fla. It’s worth noting that there is a 33.3% chance of the track falling outside of the cone, and the impacts can be felt away from the center of the storm.

It remains too early to make a forecast with suitable confidence for the Big Bend and South Georgia. The farther west the storm travels away from Florida, the lower the impacts. At best, Delta will help to funnel in more moisture and increase rain chances in the viewing area for the last-half of the week. Those along the Gulf Coast should closely monitor the progress of Delta.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A tropical depression intensified into Tropical Storm Delta Monday morning, posing a threat to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Maximum sustained winds increased to 45 mph according to the 11 a.m. Monday intermediate advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The center was 130 south of Jamaica and was moving west at 7 mph. The estimated minimum central pressure was at 1002 millibars. A Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft was scheduled to investigate the system Monday afternoon.

Hurricane warnings were issued for the Cuba province of Pinar del Rio. Tropical storm conditions are expected in the Cayman Islands late on Monday.

The storm is expected to move northwestward through Wednesday or Thursday, moving into the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Delta becoming a hurricane as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. The 4- to 5-day forecast track has Delta moving more northward and north-northeastward Thursday into Friday as it’s expected to get caught by an upper-level trough of low pressure. As of this post, landfall would be along the central Gulf Coast sometime Friday.

Ensemble members of the American GFS and European models are in decent agreement with a general northwesterly trek into the Gulf of Mexico, then moving northward. The differences, though somewhat subtle, is when and where the northward turn would be. The European ensemble members are slightly more west than the GFS.

The storm looked more organized compared to Sunday with the convection wrapping around the center of circulation, though the greatest amount of convection was on the southern side of the storm. Water temperatures remain above normal in the Caribbean Sea, meaning there is likely plenty of heat content to maintain and increase intensity.

It’s too early to get specific with details on impacts for the Big Bend and South Georgia as of this post Monday morning. It will depend on the strength and scope of the storm along with the eventual path. If anything, rain chances will likely increase as the end of the work week approaches. Those along the Gulf Coast need to closely monitor the progress of Delta over the next several days.

This story was updated to reflect information form the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tropical Depression Twenty Six developed in the Caribbean Sunday night. As of 11 p.m. Sunday, Twenty-six was 75 miles south-southwest of Kingston Jamaica with sustained winds of thirty-five mph. The system is moving to the west-northwest at 9 mph.

The National Hurricane Center used satellite data to verify that Twenty Six has a well-defined center, which prompted the decision to upgrade the system to a tropical depression.

Tropical Depression Twenty Six is forecast to move through the Caribbean and strengthen into Tropical Storm Delta Monday evening. The storm is then expected to continue moving to the northwest Tuesday, becoming a category one hurricane as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. As it moves towards the northern Gulf, the current track has the storm strengthening into a category two hurricane. For now, Twenty Six is expected to make landfall in Louisiana.

However, there is uncertainty in both the track and intensity forecast. Tropical Storm Gamma is forecasted to be in the Gulf at the same time as Twenty Six. Therefore, how the two tropical cyclones interact will affect the forecast. It is too early to determine how and if Twenty Six will impact the Big Bend and South Georgia.

The WCTV Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor both Tropical Storm Gamma and Tropical Depression Twenty Six as they move through the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. One way to stay updated on the tropics is by downloading the WCTV Pinpoint Weather App. Also, as hurricane season goes until November 30th, having a hurricane preparedness kit is a good idea.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A tropical wave southeast of Jamaica is being watched for the potential of further development as it’s expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico during the new work week.

The tropical wave with an accompanying area of low pressure at the surface was showing signs of organization Sunday morning, according to an update from the National Hurricane Center.

“Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for additional development, and a tropical depression is likely to form within the next day or two,” according to the National Hurricane Center’s tropical weather outlook Sunday morning.

The complex was moving west-northwest between 10-15 mph and is expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico by mid week. The National Hurricane Center is giving the system a 70% chance of tropical development over the next two days and a 80% chance over the next five days.

The convection remained spread out across the southern Caribbean Sea late Sunday morning, but deep thunderstorm development was present. Surface observations are scarce in that region; therefore, it was hard to determine if barometric pressure was falling near the wave (a sign of strengthening). Despite water temperatures falling in the region over the last seven days, they are still above normal and would leave enough heat content for tropical development.

Guidance models and their ensemble members differ widely on what would happen to the system as it enters the Gulf of Mexico mid week. The overall steering drivers for the wave would be Tropical Storm Gamma, which was sitting off of the northern Yucatan Peninsula coastline Sunday morning. Gamma may wrap the system around its east and northern side, similar to a Fujiwhara Effect. Another, and likely the largest steering mechanism, would be a ridge of high pressure in the mid levels of the atmosphere that is forecast to nudge to the west from the Atlantic. This could push the storm farther west in the Gulf of Mexico, but it would depend on the strength of that high and it’s too early to tell as of this post.

The models also diverge with respect to strength, lowering the confidence of intensity forecasting. The sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are at least 80 degrees (with the exception of the immediate northern coastline), but water temperatures are below normal for the northern Gulf (mainly north of 25 degrees Latitude). The lower water temperatures could leave less fuel for a higher intensity.

Those along the Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of the disturbance in the Caribbean Sea over the next several days. The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of the system.

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