Hurricane Delta Strengthens as it Approaches Yucatan

noaa goes hurricane delta
Hurricane Delta approaching the Yucatan, October 6 (NOAA / GOES-16)

Published Oct 6, 2020 9:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

Hurricane Delta, the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, has intensified to Category 4 status as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula. It is expected to make landfall in the vicinity of the resort towns of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and hotel operators and officials are working to evacuate foreign tourists to safe locations. 

Prior to landfall in the Yucatan, Delta will likely achieve sustained winds of 135 knots.  According to the National Hurricane Center, life-threatening storm surge and heavy wind damage are expected along portions of the northern Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday night. Heavy rains will extend over the Cayman Islands, western Cuba and the Yucatan for most of the middle of the week, raising the potential for flooding and landslides. 

After it passes over the peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico, Delta is expected to maintain a strength of 110-115 knots before making a second landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast, with the current track forecast aimed at Louisiana. It is expected to arrive on U.S. shores Friday with "life-threatening" winds.

Oil and gas operators in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico are already beginning preparations for Delta's arrival. According to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), personnel have been evacuated from 56 out of the 643 manned production platforms in the U.S. GoM, six DP-enabled drill rigs have relocated and one anchored drill rig has been evacuated. BSEE estimates that about 29 percent of the current oil production in the U.S. Gulf has been shut in due to the evacuations. 

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency in advance of the storm. Louisiana is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Laura, and about 6,600 people who were displaced by that storm are still housed in hotels around the state.

"We have seen an active hurricane season already, with a devastating hit in Southwest Louisiana from Hurricane Laura. It would be a mistake for anyone in Louisiana to let down their guard. Be prepared," cautioned Bel Edwards. 

Delta is on track to be the 10th tropical storm or hurricane to make landfall in the United States in a year, breaking a record set in 1916. Each of the past five years has seen an "above-average" intensity Atlantic hurricane season, noted CSU meteorologist Philip Klotzbach.