Update: Delta is now a category two hurricane as of the 4:00 AM advisory, according to the National Hurricane Center. Additional strengthening is expected and Delta is forecast to become a category 4 over the next few days as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico.
Meteorologists are keeping their eye on the newly formed TropicalStorm Delta, which is expected to intensify before impacting the northern Gulf Coast later this week.
“Yes, there is another storm out there,” said Donald Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Lake Charles office. “And, yes, it unfortunately looks like it’s going to head into the Gulf of Mexico and potentially impact the northern Gulf Coast once again.”
This latest tropical storm — the 25th of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season — formed south of Jamaica Monday morning with maximum wind speeds of 40 mph. Jones said the storm is expected to become a hurricane as it moves northwest into the Gulf of Mexico today and into Wednesday.
“I expect it to be a strong tropical storm, if not a hurricane by early Tuesday,” Jones said.
Delta is expected to make landfall along the northern Gulf Coast on Friday as a category 2 hurricane with maximum wind speeds of 105 mph.
If Delta maintains hurricane strength through landfall, it will become the fourth to hit the Gulf Coast in 2020, behind Hanna, Laura and Sally.
“The official forecast track calls for it to land somewhere across southeast Louisiana although there is still some uncertainty there,” Jones said.
Delta is expected to make landfall during the day on Friday, though the area could start experiencing tropical storm-force winds on Thursday.
As of Monday afternoon, Delta was moving west at 7 mph and was expected to pivot into Tropical Depression Gamma — which was slowly drifting toward Progreso, Mexico, at 2 mph. Gamma is expected to move slowly southwestward to west-southwestward and weaken due to strong southerly vertical wind shear.
“For Gamma, that’s going to push it into the Yucatan Peninsula and essentially lead to its demise but as far as Delta, as it pivots it may actually take on more of a westerly motion for a period of time before heading northwest and eventually north,” Jones said.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Cayman Islands and there is a hurricane warning for western Cuba and the northern Yucatan Peninsula.