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Delta Forms in the Caribbean and Likely to Intensify Quickly As It Enters the Gulf

Tropical Storm Delta Forecast Track and Intensity
National Hurricane Center
Tropical Storm Delta Forecast Track and Intensity

Update as of 5:00 PM Monday: 

Delta continues to strengthen with maximum sustained wind speeds near hurricane-force at 70 mph. The central barometric pressure has fallen over the last several hours to 983 mb indicating a steady strengthening within the storm. A Hurricane Warning has been issued for parts of the Yucatán Peninsula and western Cuba where dangerous storm surge and hurricane-force winds are expected beginning Tuesday night. 

Delta is expected to become a major hurricane Wednesday morning as it approaches the Yucatán Peninsula and then continue tracking northwestward, exiting into the southern Gulf of Mexico Wednesday night and Thursday. 

The tropical system is forecast to approach the northern Gulf coast late this week as a hurricane. While there is still a large amount of uncertainty in the track and intensity of the system the National Hurricane Center notes that there is an increasing risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards along the Gulf coastlines from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle. Gulf coast residents are advised to start preparing ahead of Delta and have their hurricane plan in place and monitor updates to the forecast of Delta.  

Update as of 11:05 AM Monday: 

Delta is becoming better defined in satellite imagery and is strengthening over the northwest Caribbean. It has top sustained winds of 45 mph, and is still forecast to become a hurricane on Tuesday.

Original story from 8:00 AM Monday:

Newly-formed Tropical Storm Delta is likely to intensify rapidly as it approaches the Gulf of Mexico early this week. It is expected to threaten the north-central Gulf coast as a hurricane on Friday.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center classified the depression early Monday morning before upgrading it to Tropical Storm Delta hours later. It is forecast to traverse the deep, warm waters of the northwest Caribbean Sea and southern Gulf of Mexico early this week, where water temperatures are between 85 and 87 degrees. Strong wind shear, which can tear hurricanes apart, is expected to be light or non-existent for a few days. This warm water and low wind shear environment favors rapid intensification and the system is expected to be a hurricane late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

The latest official forecast calls for the storm to be at category 2 intensity as it approaches the northern Gulf coast. It is expected to be steered generally northward between a ridge of high pressure over Florida and a trough of low pressure over the Texas. The exact strength of those two systems will determine the path of the storm, with the most likely landfall location somewhere between the Louisiana Gulf Coast and the western Florida Panhandle some time on Friday. Forecasters at the Hurricane Center said there is a risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards, but that there was large uncertainty in the track and intensity forecast at this time.

Hurricanes Hanna, Laura, and Sally all strengthened because of very warm water near the northern Gulf coast earlier in the season. A recent cold frontal passage has cooled the water temperatures near the immediate coast and this factor may reduce the risk of an intensifying storm all the way to the coast. Still, the storm is forecast to be a hurricane as it approaches and residents along the northern Gulf coast are strongly encouraged to monitor the forecast this week.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gamma continues to spin near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is forecast to weaken and potentially interact or become absorbed into the system that is likely to become a hurricane this week. Significant flash flooding and tropical storm force winds from Gamma are expected to continue affecting the Yucatan for the next several days.

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Ray Hawthorne
Dr. Athena Masson