5PM CDT, Tuesday, October 6, 2020 – Hurricane Delta, now a Cat 4, continues to strengthen and the track continues to shift slightly west. In this afternoon’s update, the NHC predicts the storm could reach 155 MPH by tonight and the cone of uncertainty now bisects Galveston Bay. Just this morning, the western edge was at High Island.
Delta intensified impressively over the last 24 hours with winds increasing more than 100 mph. Delta continues to move toward the WNW at 15mph and this motion is expected to continue until landfall on the NE Yucatan tonight near Cancun.
Delta will quickly move across the NE Yucatan tonight and into the southern Gulf on Wednesday. By Thursday, Delta should begin a turn toward the NW and N over the west-central Gulf of Mexico. It remains unclear when and how fast this turn transpires. This will have impacts on where and when Delta will make landfall on the US Gulf coast. Most models show landfall over the central Louisiana coast around Vermillion Bay, but the European model continues to take the storm farther west.
Delta continues to be in a favorable environment for intensification. NHC brings the hurricane to 155mph tonight. After landfall on the Yucatan, Delta will continue to find near ideal conditions over the southern Gulf of Mexico and will likely reach a secondary peak intensity around 130-140mph on Thursday.
By Thursday evening as Delta begins to turn northward and accelerate toward the US Gulf coast, increasing shear is likely, but increasing forward speed could negate this shear.
Delta will then move over cooler shelf waters in the northern Gulf, but the fast forward speed of Delta could result in a slower rate of weakening.Jeff Lindner, Harris County Meteorologist
It is uncertain how strong Delta will be at landfall along the US Gulf coast, but the general consensus is somewhere between 105-125 mph.
Delta’s wind field will expand over the central Gulf on Thursday. NHC forecasts Delta will approach the northern Gulf as a large hurricane and this will support impacts well away from the center – both to the west and east.
Given the changes today, expect increasing swells and tides along the upper TX coast as early as late Wednesday, but more likely on Thursday and Friday. Given the expanding wind field, tropical storm force winds (40mph) may get close to portions of eastern SE TX on Friday – mainly along and east of a line from San Luis Pass to Liberty.
Additionally, some squalls may move into the region on Thursday night and Friday with gusty winds. As noted on the graphic below there is between a 30-50% chance of sustained 40mph winds over the southeastern portions of the area. The most likely arrival time for tropical storm force winds would be around midday on Friday.
Any deviation in the forecast track to the west will increase the impacts along the upper TX coast and persons should closely monitor the progress of this system.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/6/2020
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