Leaving Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday, Hurricane Delta is expected to strengthen back into a major storm as it makes its way toward the same area of the US Gulf Coast still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Laura.
A hurricane watch was issued for parts of the coast from High Island, Texas, eastward to Grand Isle, Louisiana, and a storm surge watch is in effect from High Island to the Alabama-Florida border, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Delta expected to restrengthen tonight and Thursday while moving over the southern and central Gulf of Mexico,” the center said Wednesday afternoon. “Life-threatening storm surge and damaging winds increasingly likely along portions of the the northern Gulf Coast beginning Friday.”
While the center predicts the storm could strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane Thursday night, cooler water and upper level winds may weaken Delta to a Category 2 by the time it hits the US coast.
Delta’s projected path looks eerily similar to that of Hurricane Laura, which made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm on August 27, leaving 15 people dead, hundreds of thousands without power and destroying more than 10,000 homes in southwest Louisiana.
“We are still reeling from Hurricane Laura,” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said in a Facebook post. “Much progress has been made since Laura, but there are still many people going through pain and struggle.”
If Delta makes landfall in Louisiana, it will be the fourth landfall of a named storm this year in the state, something that has never happened.
While some evacuees there are still living in shelters from Hurricane Laura, voluntary evacuations have already begun in several low-lying areas, and some mandatory orders have been issued.
Tropical storm watches were issued in Texas, including Houston and Galveston Bay, and in Louisiana, including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas.
Delta made landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula as a a Category 2 storm Wednesday morning, roughly halfway between the resort towns of Cancun and Playa del Carmen in Puerto Morelos, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The hurricane quickly made its way over the peninsula and reemerged in the Gulf of Mexico. A Category 1 storm by Wednesday afternoon, Delta was about 55 miles north-northeast of Progreso, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.
The storm left Mexico’s popular resorts with no known deaths or major damage as of early Wednesday afternoon. More than 39,000 people had evacuated ahead of Delta’s arrival.
Delta is just the latest major storm in one of the busiest hurricane seasons in recent history. When it hits the US in the coming days, Delta will become the 10th named storm to make landfall in the US this season, setting the record for the most in one year. It will be the fifth hurricane to make landfall, the most storms the US has seen since 2005.