U.S. Gulf Coast Faces Another Hurricane Threat

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Tropical Storm Delta forming south of Cuba, October 5 (NOAA)

Published Oct 5, 2020 3:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Gulf Coast is facing yet another hurricane threat in what has already been the busiest Atlantic cyclone season in more than a decade. Tropical Storm Delta, currently located south of Cuba, is set to move northwards and strengthen to hurricane force before making landfall between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle on Friday. 

As of Monday, the storm had sustained winds in the range of 40 knots, and it was drifting westward at about six knots. It is expected to turn further to the north and speed up over the next 72 hours, then turn northeast into the central U.S. Gulf Coast. The U.S. Coast Guard is already warning mariners and portside interests in the storm's path to make ready for its arrival. 

"Delta is forecast to traverse very warm waters over the northwestern Caribbean Sea and be in a very low vertical wind shear environment during the next couple of days.  These conditions should allow for significant strengthening during that time," warned the National Hurricane Center.

The storm will bring dangerous storm surge and hurricane conditions to parts of western Cuba on Tuesday, and its heavy rainfall will also affect the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. 

The World Meteorological Organization's annual list of 21 names for Atlantic cyclones has been used up for 2020, and the National Hurricane Center has moved on to using the letters of the Greek alphabet. This year is only the second time in history that it has reached the letter Delta; though high, this year's count does not yet surpass the busy hurricane season of 2005, which saw 28 named storms. 

Over the weekend, while Tropical Storm Delta was gathering strength, Tropical Storm Gamma hit the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula with winds of up to 70 mph - just below hurricane strength. The interior city of Valladolid received about eight inches of rain, and Merida received about six inches. At least six people were killed.