ORLANDO, Fla. — Gradual strengthening has continued, with winds forecast to increase overnight. Hurricane warnings have been issued for the northwest Gulf coast.
Hurricane Delta weakened into a Category 1 storm Wednesday afternoon, but it is expected to regain strength as it moves across the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and its center is about 55 miles north-northeast of Progreso, Mexico, and 580 miles south-southeast of Cameron, Louisiana.
The storm is moving northwest at 17 mph.
It is expected to make landfall again late Friday in Louisiana, near the Texas border.
Hurricane watches have been issued for parts of Texas and Louisiana. Click here to read more about that.
Chief meteorologist Tom Terry is tracking the storm live on Channel 9 Eyewitness News. Click here to watch live.
Hurricane hunters are investigating Delta this afternoon after it emerged over the south-central Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane is still a category 2 system, but the wind field seems to be expanding. As the hurricane travels to the northwest, and with the subsequent turns to the north and northeast, the cyclone will likely continue to expand.
This means more storm surge problems and extensive impacts well away from its center. Especially to the right of the center as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast.
Delta’s winds will start to pound the immediate coast of Louisiana, along with outer rainbands starting Thursday evening. Residents should be done with preparations by 8 p.m. on Thursday.
Between 6 to 10 inches of rainfall is possible for parts of Louisiana, with higher amounts in isolated areas.
Delta is expected to emerge over the southern Gulf of Mexico and continue moving to the northwest until early Thursday morning.
Delta will then make a turn northward, then northeastward, toward the Louisiana coast on Friday.
Residents along the Louisiana coast should finish preparations by Friday evening. Winds will increase rapidly and conditions will be dangerous to be outdoors.
The storm will expand once it is over the Gulf of Mexico, which means a bigger threat for storm surge to the right of the hurricane. Significant storm surge damage, flash flooding, and destructive winds are expected for eastern Louisiana, extending eastward to the Mississippi/Alabama coast.
Delta could produce 4 to 8 inches of rain, with isolated maximum totals of 12 inches across portions of the central Gulf Coast north into portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley. These rainfall amounts will lead to flash, urban, and small stream flooding, along with minor river flooding. Heavy rainfall will eventually spread into the Tennessee Valley, and interior southeastern United States this weekend into early next week.
Storm surge as high as 11 feet for parts of the Louisiana coast is possible.
There are no direct impacts to Central Florida expected from this system. Delta will remain far enough west of Florida to not bring a threat for severe weather directly associated with this system. As the track has shifted more west, and away from Florida, the weather pattern has become less active int he forecast as far as rain and storms.
It will still be very muggy, the temperatures will be very warm this week, which will make the heat indices feel as if they were in the mid to upper-90s. Keep this in mind if you are doing any work outdoors.
The west coast of Florida will have dangerous conditions. There could be a threat of large waves and a high risk for rip currents.
Hurricane Delta continues to travel over the Yucatan Peninsula and it is expected to emerge over the southern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday afternoon.
Hurricane Delta made landfall around 6:30 a.m. in Puerto Morelos. A weather station in this town has reported calm winds, which means they are in the center.
Delta has estimated maximum sustained winds of 110mph, a category 2 hurricane. It will continue to move northwest at 17 mph.
This is the first Category 2 hurricane to strike the Mexican state of Quintana Roo since Ernesto in 2012.
The center of Delta will move over the northeastern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula Wednesday morning.
Delta is forecast to move over the southern Gulf of Mexico by Wednesday afternoon. It will then move over the southern or central Gulf of Mexico through Thursday and approach the Gulf Coast on Friday.
Forecasters believe Delta will likely weaken before it moves over the Yucatan Peninsula. It will then restrengthen when it moves over the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday night and Thursday.
Life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels in the area as much as 8 to 12 feet above normal along the Yucatan Peninsula. Forecasters said the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
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