Hurricane Delta is moving fairly quickly across the Gulf of Mexico, heading toward a Gulf Coast landfall Friday.
Delta is a high-end Category 2 storm with winds of 100 mph as of early Thursday. But warm Gulf waters plus lack of wind shear will help Delta strengthen to at least a Category 3 storm today.
Delta probably will then lose a bit of steam again just prior to landfall Friday, but it will still be a dangerous hurricane when it hits the coast — possibly as a major Category 2 storm.
It looks like the eye will strike Friday afternoon or evening in southwestern Louisiana, very close to where Hurricane Laura hit in late August. The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning from around the Texas-Louisiana border to Morgan City, Louisiana. Tropical storm warnings are in place for the Upper Texas Coast, as well as from Morgan City to New Orleans.
The Texas and Louisiana departments of transportation have not yet closed any sections of Interstate 10, and the U.S. Coast Guard has not yet suspended ship-to-shore operations at any Gulf Coast ports. However, either of these could happen soon.
Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area by Friday afternoon or evening, with tropical storm conditions expected within this area by early Friday. Tropical storm conditions are expected within the tropical storm warning areas on Friday.
Friday through Saturday, Delta is expected to produce 5 to 10 inches of rainfall, with isolated totals of 15 inches, for southwestern and south-central Louisiana. These rainfall amounts, in addition to several feet of storm surge, will lead to significant flash flooding, urban flooding and small stream flooding, along with minor to moderate river flooding.
For extreme eastern Texas into northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas and western Mississippi, Delta is expected to produce 3 to 6 inches of rainfall, with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches. Flooding is also likely in these areas.
Thursday is the last day this week that carriers can pick up any available loads from Gulf Coast markets in and near Delta’s potential impact zone. Flooding and wind damage will likely lead to roadblocks lasting into at least next week.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has temporarily suspended hours of service (HOS) regulations for commercial truck drivers who will be directly assisting in Hurricane Delta recovery.
Look for updates all week on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.