Hurricane Delta hit Mexico on Wednesday morning as an extremely dangerous Category 2 storm, coming ashore near Puerto Morelos along the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The center of Delta made landfall around 6:30 a.m. EDT, with top winds of 110 mph, a strong Category 2 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said.
As of 11 a.m., EDT, the storm was moving northwest at 17 mph and the center was about to emerge from the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. “Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds will continue within portions of the northern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico into early afternoon,” the hurricane center said, adding that heavy rain could cause significant flash flooding through early Thursday.
Meanwhile, the hurricane center issued storm surge and hurricane watches for portions of the northwestern and northern U.S. Gulf Coast.
After battering the Yucatan on Wednesday, Delta is forecast to emerge into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday night and Thursday and restrengthen into a Category 3 major hurricane, forecasters said.
It’s expected to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on Friday: “Delta is expected to grow in size as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast, where there is an increasing likelihood of life- threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds beginning Friday, particularly for portions of the Louisiana coast,” the hurricane center warned.
In addition, Delta could bring 4 to 8 inches of rain, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches, to the central Gulf Coast through parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley. Heavy rainfall could result in flash, urban, and small stream flooding and minor river flooding, according to the hurricane center.
When Delta moves inland, heavy rain is expected in the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlatnic region this weekend, the center said.
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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Delta was expected to make landfall there Friday night or Saturday morning and the entire state is in the storm’s possible path. State and local officials in coastal areas were shoring up levees, sandbagging and taking other protections measures, he said.
Louisiana is still recovering from Hurricane Laura, which ravaged the southwestern region as it roared ashore as a Category 4 storm in August. More than 6,600 Laura evacuees remain in hotels around the state, mainly in New Orleans, because their homes are too heavily damaged to return.
Edwards also declared a state of emergency Tuesday and said he plans to ask President Donald Trump for a pre-landfall disaster declaration Wednesday.
Delta would be the 10th named storm to hit the U.S. in a single season, an all-time record. This year has tied 1916 for nine tropical systems that made landfall in the U.S., AccuWeather said.
Four of the landfalls so far in 2020 have been from hurricanes, including Hanna, Isaias, Laura and Sally, the Weather Channel said. Delta would be the fifth hurricane landfall of the year.
Contributing: The Associated Press