Tropical Storm Delta is likely to be becoming a hurricane over these next 24 hours.
There is growing potential for rapid intensification in Gulf of Mexico waters as Delta moves away from the Caribbean Sea. Low wind shear and a favorable environment plus warm sea surface temperatures work together to increase confidence of this system becoming a Major Hurricane, which is classified at Cat 3 and higher.
Projected landfall along the northern Gulf Coast will occur Friday, with impacts beginning late Thursday. Right now, Delta draws memories of a 2002 Hurricane Lili situation. Lili was a Category 4 in the Gulf of Mexico before weakening sharply to a Category 1 just before landfall in Louisiana. No two storms are exactly alike, but a reference point can help understand any system’s potential.
Unfortunately, with a system like Delta, you don’t have the luxury of betting on it weakening. You must prepare as if system won’t weaken.
Now is the time to become ready for the storm and begin preparing. The keys with Delta will be any interaction with the Yucatán to debunk intensity and how much this system weakens due to increasing shear plus the cooler waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico’s shelf.
There is still plenty of time to watch with uncertainty on Delta’s final landfall point and strength. Watch closely as the forecast cone spans from western Louisiana to Florida’s panhandle.