Hurricane conditions and life-threatening storm surge are expected later Friday into Friday night as Hurricane Delta approaches some of the same areas affected by Hurricane Laura in late August. It is expected to be a record-breaking 10th landfall of a named storm on the U.S. coastline.
As of Friday morning, Delta was maintaining major, category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Top sustained winds were 120 mph as of the 5am update from the Hurricane Center; however, satellite imagery was beginning to suggest some weakening of the storm. Delta is forecast to move over somewhat cooler waters and underneath stronger upper-level winds which were expected cause weakening later Friday.
Still, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said the hurricane will be strong enough to produce hurricane-force winds in southwest and south-central Louisiana. Many of these areas experienced category 4 hurricane winds in late August associated with Hurricane Laura. These communities are still recovering and are more vulnerable to widespread tropical storm and hurricane winds associated with Delta.
Tropical storm force winds are expected to spread onshore around midday ahead of an expected landfall early Friday evening. Peak surges of 7 to 11 feet are forecast in south-central Louisiana near Vermillion Bay, but surges of up to 4 feet were possible as far west as the upper Texas coast and as far east as the Mississippi Gulf coast. For this reason, Storm Surge Warnings are in effect from High Island, Texas to the mouth of the Pearl River in Louisiana.
Tropical storm winds are expected for metropolitan New Orleans, where tropical storm warnings are in effect. Flash flooding from 5 to 10 inches of rain are forecast in southwest and south-central Louisiana, but forecasters say 3 to 6 inches are also possible from parts of Texas into northern Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, which are also capable of producing flash floods.
A few tornadoes may develop within rain bands over Louisiana and Mississippi today. A few gusty squalls along with the possibility of waterspouts and brief tornadoes are possible into the western Florida Panhandle on Saturday and then into the Carolinas on Sunday from the remnant of Delta.
High Surf Advisories were in effect through Saturday for the Florida Panhandle. A high risk of rip currents will make for dangerous swimming conditions in the Panhandle and as far east as the west coast of Florida from the Tampa/St. Petersburg areas southward to Fort Myers this weekend.