Delta has been generally steady in strength during the past several hours as it starts to close in on the southwestern Louisiana coast. An eye has occasionally been evident in satellite images and deep convection remains quite intense around the eye.
Delta is expected to move over waters with progressively lower oceanic heat content as it approaches the Louisiana coast. These less favorable oceanic conditions combined with an increase in southwesterly shear should cause Delta to weaken a little before it moves onshore. Regardless, Delta is forecast to be near major hurricane intensity when it makes landfall and significant impacts are expected.
At 11 a.m, the center of Hurricane Delta was located near latitude 28.0 North, longitude 93.8 West.
Delta is moving toward the north near 13 mph. A turn toward the north-northeast is expected this afternoon, followed by a northeastward motion during the day Saturday.
On the forecast track, the center of Delta should make landfall along the coast of southwestern Louisiana later this afternoon or this evening, and then move across central and northeastern Louisiana tonight and Saturday morning.
Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph with higher gusts. Delta is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Slow weakening is expected before landfall, with rapid weakening expected after the center moves inland.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.
NOAA buoy 42019 located west of the center of Delta recently reported sustained winds of 49 mph and a wind gust of 60 mph.
Delta’s first landfall
Mexico: Delta has made landfall along the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula near Puerto Morelos around 5:30 AM CDT with estimated maximum winds of 110 mph, a category two hurricane. A WeatherFlow observing site near Puerto Morales recently reported near calm winds and a minimum pressure of 972 MB (28.71 inches) in the center. A WeatherFlow observing site near Cancun has reported peak sustained winds of 84 mph with gusts to 119 mph.
Hurricane Delta is on steroids! No other Atlantic hurricane has ever strengthened this much this fast after forming.
It intensified by 70 mph (from 40 mph to 110 mph) in its first 24 hours since becoming a named storm. That makes it the quickest most intensifying 24 hour period October Atlantic storm since Wilma in 2005.
Over the next few hours, Delta spun up into a 140 mph major hurricane.
A remarkably tiny eye just 5 miles across is barely noticeable on the satellite. Stronger winds often arise from narrow vortex diameters.
The area in the western Caribbean sea holds the hottest and deepest water on average in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin. This is why some of the strongest storms on record grow in the vicinity of Delta.
The deep pool of hot seawater here called Potential Heat Content is at the hottest point on record.
Other deadly Category 4+ hurricanes have taken advantage of this zone between Jamaica & Yucatan Peninsula including Paloma in 2008 and Dean in 2007.
Delta’s faster intensification is one of the ways climate change is setting the odds against us.
On average, Atlantic hurricanes are intensifying from a storm to Cat 3 now 20 hours faster than 25 years ago.
Global warming is shown to make storms stronger and Delta now makes the list of six other October Atlantic hurricanes with maximum winds at or above 140 mph since 2010 including:
- Ophelia (2011)
- Gonzalo (2014)
- Joaquin (2015)
- Matthew (2016)
- Nicole (2016)
- Michael (2018)