- Event: Hurricane Delta
- Location(s): Cayman Islands; western Cuba; far southeastern Mexico; Gulf Coast region, US (map)
- Projected Landfall (Date): Near Cancun, Mexico (Oct. 7); potentially southeastern Louisiana, US (early Oct. 10)
- Center of Circulation: Approximately 200 km (125 miles) south of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
- Maximum Sustained Winds: 85 knots (160 kph, 95 mph)
Hurricane Delta continues to strengthen as it tracks northwestward in the Caribbean Sea as a Category-2 Hurricane. As of 0500 EDT, the system's center of circulation was approximately 200 km (125 miles) south of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Forecast models indicate Delta will continue to track northwestward over the coming days and is expected to further strengthen to a Category-4 Hurricane through Oct. 7. Afterward, Hurricane Delta is forecast to make landfall in, far southeastern Mexico near Cancun, 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 will then enter the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which will allow it to strengthen quickly to at least Category-3 intensity, possibly 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 to occur in southeastern Louisiana, early Oct. 10. Following landfall, the system will rapidly decrease as it tracks across the Gulf Coast region of the US. Significant uncertainty remains in the track and intensity forecast, and changes could occur over the coming days, especially with regard to potential impacts and landfall along the Gulf Coast of the US.
As of 0500 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: Cayman Islands, including Little Cayman and Cayman Brac; Pinar del Rio Province and Isle of Youth, Cuba; Punta Herrero to Tulum, Mexico, and Dzillam to Progresso, Mexico
- Tropical Storm Watch: La Habana Province, Cuba
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.
Tropical Storm 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.
Sustained heavy rainfall could trigger flooding in low-lying communities near streams, creeks, and rivers, as well as in urban areas with easily overwhelmed or a lack of 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 storm surge totals of 1.8-2.7 meters (6-9 feet) above normal tide levels are possible along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula over the coming days.
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 Cuba. 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.
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.
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.