Hurricane Delta makes landfall in Mexico as a Category 2, expected to move towards US

This Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, satellite image released by NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System...
This Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, satellite image released by NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) shows a strengthening Hurricane Delta. Delta rapidly intensified into a dangerous Category 4 storm Tuesday before slightly weakening into a Category 2 when it hit Mexico on Oct. 7, 2020. It remains on course to continue on to the U.S. Gulf Coast later in the week.(NASA via AP)
Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 5:30 AM MDT
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CANCUN (AP) - Hurricane Delta made landfall Wednesday near Puerto Morelos along the northeastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Satellite imagery, radar data from Cuba, and surface observations in Mexico indicate that the center of Delta came ashore around 5:30 a.m. local time as a Category 2 hurricane, sustaining top winds of 110 mph.

Ahead of its arrival, Quintana Roo Gov. Carlos Joaquín said the state government had prepared, but warned residents and tourists that “it is a strong, powerful hurricane.” He considered it a good sign that Delta had weakened a bit late Tuesday, but said the area hadn’t seen a storm like it since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

Delta increased in strength by 80 mph in just 24 hours, more than doubling from a 60 mph storm at 2 p.m. EDT Monday to 140 mph at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday. Its top winds peaked at 145 mph before weakening slightly late Tuesday as it closed in on Yucatan. Forecasters warned it was still an extremely dangerous storm nevertheless, with a life-threatening storm surge that could raise water levels 9 to 13 feet, along with large and dangerous waves and flash flooding inland.

Forecasters say there is an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge and dangerous...
Forecasters say there is an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds, especially along the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, beginning Friday.(Source: NHC/NOAA)

Delta was forecast to spend several hours lashing the Yucatan Peninsula before moving into the Gulf of Mexico and growing into a “considerably larger” storm before striking the U.S. Gulf Coast. People in Louisiana or Mississippi should prepare now for hurricane-force winds to begin hitting their coastlines on Friday, the hurricane center advised.

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.

Mexico put the commander of its navy in charge of the federal response. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday that 5,000 federal troops and emergency personnel were being made available in Quintana Roo to aid in storm efforts.

Local and state officials urged residents to move to shelters.

Juan Carlos Avila arrived at the Technological Institute of Cancun shelter with his seven-months pregnant wife, Joselyn, and their 3-year-old-son, Alexander. He said the staff had made them comfortable and seemed well prepared.

The family, which lives in Miami, had been in Cancun a week and already went through Tropical Storm Gamma, which soaked the area over the weekend.

“We’ve practically lived in storms during our stay here in Cancun,” Avila said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.