Delta Explodes into Hurricane; Should Become Major Hurricane by Wednesday; Track Shifts Slightly West

Twenty-four hours ago, Hurricane Delta was simply potential tropical cyclone #26. As of 8 P.M. EDT today, the National Hurricane Center indicated #26 had progressed from tropical depression to tropical storm to hurricane in 24 hours. By tomorrow night, Delta should become a major hurricane as it crosses the resort areas on the northeastern tip of the Yucatan. However, the NHC also predicts that the storm will de-intensify before it makes landfall somewhere between East Texas and the Florida Panhandle on Friday.

Winds Could Increase from 75 to 120 mph

Low wind sheer and warm waters in the northwest Caribbean will allow rapid strengthening over the next 24 to 36 hours. The storm already has sustained winds of 75 mph. NHC gives a better than 50 percent chance of a 35-40 kt increase in wind speed over the next 24 hours. That’s roughly another 40 to 45 mph.

Track Shifts Slightly West

The NHC has shifted the track envelope westward over today, bringing the storm closer to Houston, though we are still slightly outside the cone.

Source: National Hurricane Center

Tropical Storm Force Winds Currently Extend 70 miles From Center

NHC expects additional rapid strengthening during the next day or so. Delta, they say, should become a major hurricane when it nears the Yucatan Peninsula. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles (25 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center.

At this point, the Houston area has a 10-30% probability of experiencing tropical-storm-force winds from Delta.

Louisiana to Western Florida Faces Largest Danger

NHC advises, “Delta is forecast to approach the northern Gulf Coast late this week as a hurricane. While there is large uncertainty in the track and intensity forecasts, there is an increasing risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle beginning Thursday night or Friday. Residents in these areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and monitor updates to the forecast of Delta.”

Impact to Texas Coast?

Jeff Lindner, Harris County Meteorologist, says, “Swells will be increasing over the northwest Gulf of Mexico by mid week with heights increasing into the 5-10 foot range by Wednesday. This will result in increasing tides along the upper TX coast. Current projections indicate 1.0-1.5 feet above normal levels at times of high tides Thursday and Friday. This is subject to change based on the intensity and wind field of Delta over the central and NW Gulf late this week.”

While SE TX is currently outside the “error cone” and direct impacts appear unlikely, Lindner says that its important to closely monitor forecasts for any changes in the track.

Posted by Bob Rehak at 9PM on Monday, 10/5/2020 based on data from the NHC and HCFCD

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