Hurricane Delta grows to major Category 4 storm on path to US

Hurricane Delta intensified into a Category 4 storm with 130-mph winds Tuesday on a course to deliver a blow to southeastern Mexico on its path to the US Gulf Coast and Florida’s western panhandle, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“There is a significant risk of dangerous storm surge, wind and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle beginning Thursday night or Friday,” the NHC said at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The hurricane — which is moving west-northwest at 16 mph — is expected to move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday night, forecasters said.

Delta, which was identified as a tropical storm late Monday, developed into a hurricane in the fastest intensification observed in a 24-hour period for an October storm in the Atlantic since 2005’s Hurricane Wilma, according to meteorologist Philip Klotzbach, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Klotzbach, of Colorado State University, earlier said Delta’s 115-mph winds tied it with 2005′s Hurricane Beta for the strongest winds of a Greek alphabet-named Atlantic hurricane.

The immediate worst impacts were expected along the resort-filled northeastern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. From Tulum to Cancun, communities still being soaked by the remnants of Tropical Storm Gamma could bear the brunt of the storm.

On Tuesday, long lines stretched at supermarkets, lumber yards and gas stations in Cancun as residents scrambled for provisions under mostly sunny skies.

Mexico announced the deployment of thousands of troops as the “extremely dangerous” hurricane approached, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The order has been given to mobilize up to 5,000 troops with all the necessary equipment to protect the population,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters.

In September, meteorologists were forced to break out the Greek alphabet to name the storms for only the second time ever, after the hurricane season blew through their usual list, ending with Tropical Storm Wilfred.

“I honestly don’t see much that will stop it until it reaches Yucatan, due to low vertical wind shear, high deep-layer moisture, and the very warm and deep waters of the northwestern Caribbean,” National Hurricane Center forecaster Eric Blake said.

“While there is large uncertainty in the track and intensity forecasts, there is a significant risk of dangerous storm surge, wind and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle beginning Thursday night or Friday,” the NHC said.

“Residents in these areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and monitor updates to the forecast of Delta,” it added.

Beach communities on the Alabama coast are still cleaning up the damage from Hurricane Sally, which made landfall at Gulf Shores on Sept. 16.

On Tuesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency ahead of the possible impact from Delta.

With Post wires

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