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Tropical Storm Delta Strengthens As It Approaches The Gulf Of Mexico

Tropical Storm Delta is expected to become a major hurricane as it enters the Gulf of Mexico mid-week, before weakening slightly as it approaches landfall.
National Hurricane Center
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Tropical Storm Delta is expected to become a major hurricane as it enters the Gulf of Mexico mid-week, before weakening slightly as it approaches landfall.

Tropical Storm Delta has continued to intensify in the Caribbean and could still make landfall as a hurricane on the Louisiana coast by the end of the week.

The storm is still located south of Jamaica, with sustained maximum winds of about 70 miles per hour -- up from about 45 miles per hour this morning, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Delta is expected to rapidly strengthen over the next two days, possibly reaching major hurricane strength with sustained maximum winds of 120 miles per hour by the time it enters the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday.

The current NHC forecast shows Delta weakening slightly as it moves across the Gulf due to wind shear and “cooler shelf waters,” but Louisiana could start feeling impacts from the storm as soon as Thursday.

The exact track and intensity of the storm are still unknown, but according to the 4 p.m. update from the NHC “it is becoming increasingly likely that the system will pose a significant wind and storm surge threat” to the central Gulf Coast.

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11 a.m. Monday

Tropical Storm Delta has formed in the Caribbean and could make landfall as a hurricane in Louisiana by the end of the week.

The storm is currently located south of Jamaica and has maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). It’s expected to strengthen into a hurricane on Tuesday before moving into the Gulf of Mexico by mid-week.

There’s still plenty of time for the expected track and intensity of Delta to change, but “there is an increasing risk of dangerous storm surge, wind and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle,” according to the latest NHC forecast.

The entire Louisiana coast currently sits within the forecast’s “cone of uncertainty.” (Important reminder: the cone of uncertainty only shows the possible path of the storm’s eye and devastating damage can still occur well outside the center of a storm.)

The current forecast from the NHC predicts Delta will develop maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour at its peak before landfall, which would classify it as a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. (Another important reminder: hurricane categories only reflect the wind speed of a storm, and not possible devastation by storm surge or flooding rain.)

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the storm later this afternoon.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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