Alert Details

  • Event: Major Hurricane Delta
  • Location(s): Cayman Islands; western Cuba; far southeastern Mexico; Gulf Coast region, US (map)
  • Projected Landfall (Date): Near Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico (Oct. 7); potentially south-central Louisiana, US (early Oct. 10)
  • Center of Circulation: Approximately 354 km (220 miles) southeast of Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico
  • Maximum Sustained Winds: 125 knots (230 kph, 145 mph)

Summary

Critical Alert

Hurricane Delta strengthens to Category-4 as Mexico prepares for landfall.

Hurricane Delta has rapidly strengthened into a category-4 storm as it continues tracking in the Caribbean Sea, Oct. 6. As of 1700 EDT, the system's center of circulation was approximately 354 km (220 miles) southeast of Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Forecast models indicate Delta will continue to move northwestward over the coming days and will probably further strengthen to a strong category-4 or potentially category-5 hurricane. Hurricane Delta is forecast to make landfall in far southeastern Mexico near Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo State, Oct. 7. This represents a significant westward shift from earlier forecasts this week. Following landfall in southeastern Mexico, Hurricane Delta will weaken slightly and then enter the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which will allow it to maintain its strength as a category-3 storm or possibly re-strengthen to category-4 intensity. Impacts may be felt in portions of the southern US beginning Oct. 9; the latest forecast guidance indicates landfall is most likely in south-central Louisiana early Oct. 10, which is farther west than previous guidance indicated. Following landfall, the system will rapidly weaken as it tracks across the Gulf Coast region of the US. The remnants of Delta will likely bring heavy rainfall to portions of the southeastern US through at least Oct. 11. Significant uncertainty remains in the track and intensity forecast, and changes could occur over the coming days, especially regarding potential impacts and landfall along the Gulf Coast of the US.

 

Government Advisories
As of 1700 EDT Oct. 6, the following warnings have been issued in response to the storm:

  • Hurricane Warning: Tulum to Dzillam, Mexico, and Cozumel, Mexico
  • Tropical Storm Warning: Cuban province of Pinar del Rio; Isle of Youth; Punta Herrero to Tulum, Mexico; Dzilam to Progresso, Mexico

Authorities could issue new warnings or update/rescind existing advisories throughout the system's progression in the coming days. Weather warnings could remain active even after the system's immediate threat has diminished, as some areas may still be highly susceptible to rain-induced hazards. The possibility of localized evacuations cannot be discounted if weather conditions prove particularly hazardous. The proximity of the system's center of circulation to land will ultimately determine how significant the weather-related impacts will be; the greatest impacts will likely be felt just northeast of where the center passes.

 

Evacuations
In advance of Delta, Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquin has issued evacuation warnings for Isla Holbox, Punta Allen, Cancun Hotel Zone, the tents of the Kumate Hospital in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Punta Herrero, Maria Elena Island, and Banco Chinchorro. In the US, a state of emergency is in effect for Alabama and mandatory evacuations have been issued for Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Ono Island. A state of emergency has also been issued in the state of Louisiana and evacuation orders are in place for portions of Jefferson and Lafourche parishes.

Hazardous Conditions
Major Hurricane Delta is likely to bring heavy rainfall, gusty winds, and high waves to portions of the Cayman Islands and western Cuba through at least Oct. 7, as well as far southeastern Mexico Oct. 7-8, and the Gulf Coast of the US beginning Oct. 9. Widespread rain accumulations around 10-15 cm (4-6 inches) are expected across the northern Yucatan Peninsula. Locally higher rainfall totals up to 25 cm (10 inches) are possible in areas affected by persistent bands of thunderstorms. Additionally, 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) of rainfall is forecast across the Cayman Islands and western Cuba. Rainfall totals of 10-20 cm (4-8 inches) are expected along the Gulf Coast region of the US, with higher totals of up to 40 cm (16 inches) possible where the most persistent heavy rain bands occur.

Sustained heavy rainfall could trigger flooding in low-lying communities near streams, creeks, and rivers, as well as in urban areas with easily overwhelmed stormwater drainage systems. Sites located downstream of large reservoirs could experience flash flooding after relatively short periods of intense rainfall. Flooding could isolate some communities for several days. Prolonged swells and storm surge generated by the system will likely result in coastal flooding as the system approaches the islands. Persistent onshore flow could make it difficult for surge to recede and for water levels to decrease in coastal river catchments. Forecast models indicate life-threatening storm surge totals of 2.7-4.0 meters (9-13 feet) above normal are expected along the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Cabo Catoche to Progresso, while 1.8-2.7 meters (6-9 feet) above normal tide levels are possible along the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.

The greatest impacts in terms of strong winds and storm surge will be felt just to the east of the center of circulation relative to the direction of the storm track. As the system tracks northwestward and approaches landfall near Cancun, the greatest impacts will be felt in northern Quintana Roo state of far southeastern Mexico. This is due in part to the counterclockwise circulation of a hurricane in the northern hemisphere, which allows for higher storm surge because the winds help bring additional water on to the shore.

In addition to the heavy rain, flooding, and storm surge, the system is likely to produce damaging wind gusts as its center approaches the Yucatan Peninsula. Hurricane-force gusts in excess of 130 knots (240 kph, 150 mph) are possible along the eastern coast of Quintana Roo near where the center of Delta tracks, including Cancun and Cozumel; tropical-storm-force gusts in excess of 45 knots (85 kph, 50 mph) cannot be ruled out in the Cayman Islands and western Cuba. Hurricane-force gusts are also possible in portions of the Gulf Coast, depending on where Delta makes landfall. Widespread and prolonged power outages due to uprooted trees and toppled utility lines are possible. Rain-induced landslides are also possible in hilly areas where the ground is loose and unstable, especially in areas that also experienced heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Gamma.

Transport
In addition to the immediate threat to personal safety, inclement weather associated with the storm could trigger localized business, transport, and utility disruptions over the coming days. Floodwaters and debris flows may render some bridges, rail networks, or roadways impassable, impacting overland travel in and around affected areas. Areal flooding in urban locations could also result in severe traffic congestion, while strong winds will pose a hazard to high-profile vehicles. Heavy rain and low visibility may trigger flight disruptions at regional airports.

Disruptions triggered by inclement weather and resultant hazards, such as flooding, could persist well after conditions have improved. If there is severe damage to infrastructure, repair or reconstruction efforts may exacerbate residual disruptions.

Advice

Activate contingency plans in areas where officials forecast hurricane or tropical storm conditions. Heed all evacuation orders. Use extreme caution in low-lying coastal areas and near streams, creeks, and other waterways due to the high potential for severe flooding and storm surge. Stockpile water, batteries, and other essentials in advance. Charge battery-powered devices when electricity is available; restrict the use of cellular phones to emergencies only. Power down mobile devices when not in use. Keep important documents in waterproof containers. Observe strict food and water precautions, as municipalities could issue boil-water advisories following flooding events. Take precautions against insect- and waterborne diseases in the coming weeks. Keep any necessary medications in a waterproof container.

Plan accordingly for protracted commercial, transport, and logistics disruptions in areas in the path of the storm, especially if vital infrastructure is damaged. Seek updated information on road conditions before driving or routing shipments through areas where flooding has occurred. Confirm flights before checking out of hotels or driving to the airport; clearing passenger backlogs may take several days in some locations.