Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Gulf Coast Braces for Hurricane Delta Impact

Hurricane Delta, now a category 2 hurricane, is on track of making landfall on the southwestern Louisiana coast around sunset today.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm could bring another episode of destructive winds and life-threatening storm surge from the upper Texas coast eastward into southwestern Louisiana, which will cause additional damage to structures already weakened by Hurricane Laura back in late August.

Delta recently regained its Category 2 hurricane status with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, but it should experience some weakening before landfall due to less oceanic heat and more vertical wind shear, the NHC said. The storm was moving at 14 mph and was 35 miles from Cameron, Lousiana, as of 4 p.m CT.

Hurricane-force winds will also spread inland across portions of southern Louisiana near the path of Delta’s center this evening and tonight. Additional heavy rainfall of 5 inches or more is forecast near the track of Delta from interior Louisiana into the lower Mississippi Valley where dangerous inland flash flooding is expected into this weekend.

Delta’s threatening size is causing a large risk of life-threatening storm surge along the Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center, where the tide will cause normally dry areas to be flooded by rising waters moving inland as high as 7 to 11 feet from the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge to Morgan City, Louisiana.

Isolated severe thunderstorms are also possible prior to the arrival of the storm center through tonight. Delta will eventually weaken to a tropical depression on Saturday in northern Mississippi where 3 to 4 inches of rain are expected to fall in Lafayette County. It should gradually lose tropical characteristics before reaching Kentucky late on Sunday.

Additional heavy rainfall is expected to spread into the southern and central Appalachians during the weekend and possibly reaching the interior Mid-Atlantic late on Sunday.

Staff report