Tropical Storm Delta gained a lot of steam Monday night, quickly becoming the ninth hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season.
Several storms this year have strengthened faster than forecasters anticipated. As of Tuesday morning, Delta was a high-end Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 110 mph.
On Monday, it looked like Delta would move right over the Cayman Islands, but its track has shifted to the west. Now it’s likely that Delta will slam Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula Wednesday as a stronger Category 3 major hurricane. The resort city of Cancún is in the potential impact zone. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued a hurricane warning for this region.
Delta will then move into the southern Gulf of Mexico by Thursday, possibly intensifying even more due to the very warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Wind shear will be minimal, so the hurricane will hold together well.
The latest NHC outlook has Delta making landfall in Louisiana Friday as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. As of Tuesday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard has not suspended ship-to-shore operations at any Gulf Coast ports. However, this process will probably begin soon.
Offshore energy companies in the oil and natural gas industries will have to start evacuating and shut down for several days. Delta will likely disrupt onshore energy facilities too, and there is a potential for some infrastructure damage at liquified natural gas (LNG) facilities, oil refineries, gas processing facilities, etc., depending upon Delta’s precise track.
Once Delta makes landfall, storm surge and heavy rainfall would temporarily flood coastal communities and potentially the New Orleans area. Road closures are likely due to flooding, as are downed trees and power lines.
Interstate highways in the potential impact zone are 10, 12, 49, 55 and 59. Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP), BNSF (NYSE: BRK.A), Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) and CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) all have rail hubs in the potential path.
Look for updates all week on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.