Per the National Hurricane Center’s 4PM update, Category 4 Hurricane Delta now has maximum winds of 145 miles per hour. There’s the potential it nears Category 5 intensity before landfall near Cancun Tuesday night to early Wednesday morning. This system could be the strongest in that region of the Yucatan since Wilma during 2005.
Delta’s forecast track has nudged a little westward with a landfall in Louisiana by late Friday as a Category 2 or Category 3 storm.
Can the track shift between now and then? Yes, we are still three days away from a potential landfall. It is critical not to focus on the exact details of the track or intensity forecasts because the average three day track error is around 120 to 150 miles, while the average intensity error is close to 15 miles per hour.
Yet again, we are faced with a scenario where 50 to 100 miles will make all the difference for Metro New Orleans. 100 miles further west and our impacts will drop. 100 miles further east and our impacts go up. It is still too early to let your guard down.
The first key to watch with this is how much time Delta spends over the Yucatan. More time over land could result in the system taking longer to re-organize once it is over water, which would be good news.
By Wednesday afternoon, given the projection of the core still remaining mostly intact, Delta should be able to re-organize over the southern Gulf of Mexico. At that point, its wind field will likely expand.
The good news is that Delta appears likely to experience slightly less favorable conditions as it approaches south Louisiana. This could potentially weaken the system before landfall, but to what extend it weakens remains unseen.
All day today, the models have shifted slightly west, with growing concern for impacts in Acadiana and south-central Louisiana. Right now, we are projecting landfall in south Louisiana between Morgan City, Franklin, New Iberia, or Lafayette by late Friday night into the very early hours of Saturday morning.
Residents anywhere from the upper southeast Texas, Louisiana or Mississippi coasts to the Alabama coast should have preparations in order. Prepare for at least 90 to 120+ mile per hour gusts along the coast near Delta’s landfall location. There is substantial coastal flooding potential from Intracoastal City to the Mouth of the Mississippi River and a heavy rain risk along and east wherever Delta’s center comes onshore.
Unfortunately, with a system like this, you don’t have the luxury of betting on Delta weakening. Right now, this is forecast to maintain Category 3 strength well inland in Louisiana. You must prepare as if system won’t weaken. It is time to ready the storm preparations and be prepared to act!
Hurricane Watches will likely be issued at a point Wednesday for the Gulf Coast, 48 hours in advance of the onset of tropical storm force winds Friday afternoon.