BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday that Hurricane Delta is expected to make landfall in Southwest Louisiana Friday evening as a Category 2 storm, “very, very close to the exact location that Hurricane Laura made just over a month ago.”
Delta strengthened into a Category 3 storm shortly after the briefing, but unlike Laura, Edwards said, Delta is forecast to be weakening as it approaches the coast and it will move faster in a northeasterly direction rather than heading north.
“Having said that, it is very clear that Southwest Louisiana is going to get more of a punch from this than we would like to see because (it is) still trying to recover from Hurricane Laura.”
National Weather Service Meteorologist in Charge for New Orleans, Benjamin Schott, said they are confident now in the current track that has Delta making landfall between Lake Charles and Lafayette. However, Schott warned, “impacts can and will happen outside of the cone.”
While Delta is not expected to bring the widespread damaging winds as far inland as Laura, significant winds are expected in South Louisiana, along with life-threatening storm surges along the coast. The storm could also spin up tornadoes and cause flash flooding in some areas.
“You should plan as if the first 72 hours is on you,” Gov. Edwards said, urging those in the path of the storm to have their supply kit ready as recommended by getagameplan.org.
Edwards declared a state of emergency Tuesday in advance of Hurricane Delta. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump approved Edwards’s pre-landfall request for a federal disaster declaration, which will make federal resources available to help cover the costs of responding to the storm.
As of late Thursday morning, Hurricane Delta continued to strengthen over warm waters and as of 11 a.m. Thursday morning, maximum sustained winds were at 105 mph, a strong Category 2 on the Saffir Simpson Wind Scale.
The hurricane will begin to turn north and then jog northeast just as it approaches the coast of Louisiana. Environmental conditions are favorable for strengthening over the next 24 hours and the NHC forecast calls for further intensification through Friday morning. Just before landfall, which is forecast Friday evening, Delta may weaken some as strong upper-level winds begin to affect the storm but the extent of weakening is uncertain.