BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Our local level of concern continues to grow today as it relates to Hurricane Delta. Rapid intensification has continued through the overnight and this morning, with Delta becoming a major hurricane as of 10 a.m. as sustained winds soared to 115 mph. Just after that advisory was issued, the Hurricane Hunters found even higher winds of 130 mph, making Delta a Category 4 hurricane. As of 1 p.m., the National Hurricane Center reported Delta had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. Additionally, forecast guidance and the official forecast track imply a significant threat to southeast Louisiana.
Delta will track west-northwest into tomorrow morning, likely reaching the northern Yucatan Peninsula and areas near Cancun as a very dangerous hurricane. The official forecast shows Category 4 intensity at a potential Yucatan landfall, with Category 5 intensity not out of the question.
Some land interaction with the northern Yucatan Peninsula may result in a bit of weakening from Wednesday into early Thursday, but the official forecast shows Delta regaining Category 4 intensity over the southern Gulf of Mexico. A turn to the north should begin by late Thursday as Delta rounds a ridge of high pressure to its east and feels the influence of a developing trough over Texas. A continued northward motion is expected on Friday while at the same time wind shear may begin to result in some weakening of the storm. The biggest lingering question right now is how much weakening? The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center still seems to imply a Category 2 landfall in Louisiana as of the 10 a.m. advisory.
With that in mind, everyone in southeast Louisiana should be preparing for potential hurricane impacts. The fairly quick forward motion of Delta should limit the rainfall a bit, but localized flooding will still be possible. Wind impacts could be widespread on the current forecast track, with the greatest impacts closest to the coast. And storm surge will obviously be a concern along the coast and into Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas. With landfall still nearly four days away, it is still a little too soon to get into specific impacts.
We can say that if the forecast holds, tropical storm force winds are likely to impact most of our area, with hurricane force gusts possible. The latest rainfall outlook from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center shows average rain totals of 3″ to 5″+ through the weekend. Locally higher amounts would almost be a certainty.
Fringe effects from Delta will begin as soon as Thursday as moisture surges northward, resulting in good rain chances. But peak impacts are currently slated from late Friday night into the first half of Saturday.
Now is the time to complete any necessary preparations for a possible hurricane impact by this weekend.
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