AccuWeather meteorologists have put the Gulf Coast on high alert for what could be a disastrous strike later this week by a very dangerous hurricane. Overnight and through early Tuesday morning, Hurricane Delta escalated quickly into a Category 4 storm and forecasters warn it could strengthen even more before it strikes the Yucatan Peninsula. After that, forecasters expect Delta to emerge over the extremely warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it could maintain its strength for a time.
The hurricane’s winds had increased to 130 Tuesday morning just over 24 hours after it became the 25th tropical storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Delta is the first major hurricane to churn over the Atlantic basin during the month of October since Hurricane Michael in 2018. Delta’s intensification was the most extreme in 15 years for an October hurricane.
It’s possible that Delta could peak as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds exceeding 155 mph. If the storm were to reach that strength, it would be the first hurricane this season to reach Category 5 force. Hurricanes Laura and Teddy peaked at Category 4 intensity.
Delta is forecast to take a fairly steady west-northwest path into Thursday, which will take the storm over part of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday with dangerous, damaging and perhaps deadly consequences.
From Thursday to Friday, the hurricane is projected to begin a curved path to the north over the west-central Gulf. As the storm approaches the Louisiana coast late Friday it may begin to turn more to the northeast.
“As Delta approaches the central Gulf Coast it will start to encounter increasing wind shear and slightly cooler water, but the forward speed of Delta and the degree of shear it encounters will determine its wind strength at landfall,” AccuWeather’s top hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski explained.
After landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, the current predicted path of the hurricane includes most of Mississippi with the center of the storm passing just to the northwest of Scott County as a tropical depression.
Such a senario could mean rainfall of 3-5 inches or more in this area with high gusty winds.