Hurricane Delta landed in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula early Wednesday. It hit as a Category 2 storm with winds of 100 mph. Delta is the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic season and the ninth hurricane.
Delta will likely weaken as it moves across Mexico. But after entering the warm waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico later today or tonight, it will likely get stronger, possibly up to Category 4 status by late Thursday.
Delta probably will then lose a bit of steam again as it approaches the northern U.S. Gulf Coast. However, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) still expects it to be a dangerous hurricane — possibly a major Category 3 storm — when it hits Friday.
It looks like landfall will still be in Louisiana. The margin of error allows for landfall anywhere from just south of Lake Charles to just south of New Orleans. This is the potential target zone for the worst winds and flooding.
The preliminary forecast has Delta producing 4 to 8 inches of rainfall in the target zone Friday through Saturday, with some spots getting up to 12 inches. This includes inland portions of the lower Mississippi Valley. Rainfall and storm surge will lead to significant flash flooding and road closures. Downed trees and power lines will block some roads too.
As of early Wednesday, the U.S. Coast has not suspended ship-to-shore operations at any ports in the target impact zone.
Offshore energy companies in the oil and natural gas industries will have to start evacuating and shut down for at least a few 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.
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.
After Delta is finished slamming the coast, it will dump heavy rainfall in the Tennessee Valley and other inland areas of the Southeast.
Look for updates all week on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.