[Ensure you have all the info you need in these unprecedented times. Subscribe now.]
MORGAN CITY, La. — Louisiana residents still recovering from the devastation of a powerful hurricane less than two months ago braced for another hit as Hurricane Delta steamed north through the Gulf on Oct. 8 after swiping Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Forecasters warned that the storm could blow ashore Oct. 9 with winds of up to 100 mph and a storm surge of up to 11 feet. They placed most of Louisiana within Delta’s path, including the southwest area of the state around Lake Charles, where Category 4 Hurricane Laura ripped houses from their foundations, peeled off roofs and tore trailers in half Aug. 27.
Nearly six weeks later, 5,600 people remain in New Orleans hotels because their homes are too damaged to occupy. Trees, roofs and other debris left in Laura’s wake still sit by roadsides waiting for pickup even as forecasters warned that Delta could be a larger-than-average storm.
A Houma, La., resident prepares sandbags on Oct. 7 to mitigate Hurricane Delta's storm surge. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)
The large majority of structures damaged by Laura haven’t been permanently repaired, Gov. John Bel Edwards noted Oct. 7.
“All that debris could become missiles in really strong wind,” said Edwards, who also worried about the “sheer anxiety” the storm could cause already traumatized residents.
“We don’t want a hurricane to hit anywhere, but we know that the area that is least prepared and ready for a storm happens to be southwest Louisiana,” he said.
Edwards said President Donald Trump approved his request to declare a federal emergency, which frees up federal resources. This is the sixth time in the Atlantic hurricane season that people in Louisiana have been forced to flee the state’s barrier islands and sail boats to safe harbor while emergency officials ramp up command centers and consider ordering evacuations.
In neighboring Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves also declared a state of emergency. The Southern part of Mississippi could see heavy rain and flash flooding.
An NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Delta in the Gulf of Mexico at 10:41 a.m. on Oct. 7. (NOAA via Associated Press)
Hurricane Delta is the 25th named storm of the Atlantic’s unprecedented hurricane season. Delta hit Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane just south of the resort city of Cancun early Oct. 7 with high winds and heavy rain, cutting power to more than 260,000 customers and forcing tourists into storm shelters. No deaths or injuries were reported.
The storm weakened to a Category 1 storm in the afternoon of Oct. 7, but had already restrengthened to a Category 2 by the morning of Oct. 8, with sustained winds near 100 mph. The storm was expected to become a major hurricane by late Oct. 8, with some weakening forecast once Delta approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Oct. 9.
Along with getting hit by Hurricane Laura and escaping Hurricane Sally, Louisiana saw heavy flooding June 7 from Tropical Storm Cristobal. Tropical Storm Beta prompted tropical storm warnings in mid-September as it slowly crawled up the northeast Texas coast.
Tropical Storm Marco looked like it might deliver the first half of a hurricane double-blow with Laura, but nearly dissipated before hitting the state near the mouth of the Mississippi River on Aug. 24.
There are nearly eight weeks of hurricane season left, although forecasters at the National Weather Service office in New Orleans noted in a discussion Oct. 6 of this week’s forecast that outside of Delta, the skies above the Gulf of Mexico look calm.
“Not seeing any signs of any additional tropical weather in the extended which is OK with us because we are SO DONE with Hurricane Season 2020,” they wrote.
Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing: