Hurricane Delta, which has recently strengthened to a Category 4 storm, is forecast to potentially hit Florida’s western Panhandle, according to a public advisory by the National Hurricane Center Tuesday morning.
Currently, the storm is located about 260 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico and is traveling west-northwest at a speed of 16 mph, say NHC forecasters.
As of now, Delta has maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and is expected to strengthen as it travels toward the Yucatan Peninsula. Currently, there are hurricane warnings in place from Tulum to Dzilam as well as Cozumel.
The storm is expected to move into the southern Gulf of Mexico midday on Wednesday and into the central Gulf on Thursday. The storm will likely weaken into a Category 2 storm as it reaches Louisiana and possibly a portion of Florida’s Panhandle on Friday.
While the projection cone contains several possible paths for the storm’s center, hazardous conditions can happen far outside of the cone. Parts of the southeastern United States, including Florida, along with Tennessee Valley and portions of the central Gulf Coast, are likely to experience heavy rainfall as well as flash flooding later this week.
The NHC said there is also a risk of storm surge and dangerous winds starting Thursday or Friday.
“Regardless of the exact path, storm surge, wind and heavy rainfall is possible in Northwest Florida at the end of this week,” Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office warned in an email.
The 2020 hurricane season has now had 31 systems overall, with Delta making the fourth storm to be named from the Greek alphabet.This story originally appeared in our sister paper Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
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