Hurricane Delta barreled into southwestern Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane Friday evening, making landfall near Creole at 6 p.m. local time. This is the latest in a barrage of hurricanes to strike the northern Gulf this year, with the most recent being the devastating Category 4 hit from Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27. Much of the region, particularly the small community of Cameron and the city of Lake Charles, is still in recovery mode from that event, making this storm especially dangerous.

Latest developments
  • Delta made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane near Creole, La., at 7 p.m. Eastern time, just 13 miles to the east of where Laura made landfall six weeks ago. It was the 10th named storm to make landfall in the United States in 2020, a new record. By 8 p.m., it was downgraded to a Category 1.
  • Its dangerous eyewall, the zone of most intense winds, unleashed gusts up to 96 mph in Lake Charles and up to 100 mph along the Texas-Louisiana border. Over 300,000 customers were without power Friday night.
  • A record-setting storm surge of over 9 feet hit the coastal area south-southwest of Lafayette, La.
  • The storm unloaded six to 12 inches of rain between Lake Charles and Alexandria, La., with localized totals over 16 inches. Lake Charles had recorded nine inches as of Friday night and remained under a flash-flood warning.
  • Delta is predicted to rapidly weaken Friday night but continue to produce damaging winds through central Louisiana. Friday night into Saturday, heavy rain will spread into northern Louisiana, western Mississippi and southern Arkansas where three to six inches of rain could cause areas of flooding.
October 9, 2020 at 8:54 PM EDT
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Hurricane Delta unleashes wind gusts to 100 mph, nine-foot surge and over 16 inches of rain

By Jason Samenow

Hurricane Delta is now inland and its maximum sustained winds have dropped to 90 mph, lowering it to a Category 1. But as it blasted ashore near Creole, La., as a Category 2, it unleashed 100 mph winds, almost a foot and a half of rain and a record-setting storm surge.

While the storm is far from done producing damaging winds, heavy rain and coastal flooding, here are some of the more impressive storm statistics so far:

Peak winds

The strongest wind gust of 100 mph was logged at Texas Point, Tex., near the Louisiana border at Sabine Pass. Here are some of other notable gusts:

  • Lake Charles, La.: 96 mph.
  • Calcasieu Pass, La.: 89 mph.
  • Cameron, La.: 89 mph.
  • Jennings, La.: 81 mph.
  • Port Arthur, Tex.: 78 mph.

Peak surge

At Freshwater Canal Locks, La., located south-southwest of Lafayette, La., the surge climbed to at least 9.3 feet. Because the peak surge came in while tides were below normal, this equates to 8.32 feet of inundation. This water level is the highest on record at this location, exceeding the 8.02 feet during Hurricane Ike.

Rainfall

Delta’s heaviest rain has concentrated in a zone between Beaumont, Tex., and Lafayette, where at least three inches fell. But an area of considerably more rainfall focused between Lake Charles and Alexandria, La., where 6 to 12 inches or more have fallen. The National Weather Service received a report of 16.51 inches of rain in Iowa, La., which is about 20 miles east of Lake Charles. Lake Charles itself has received about 9 inches.

In many of these areas, it’s still raining and amounts will climb until the rain subsides from south to north Friday night into Saturday morning.

October 9, 2020 at 8:38 PM EDT
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More than 300,000 without power in Texas, Louisiana

By Darren Sands

Hundreds of thousands of American families across East Texas and southwestern Louisiana are without power tonight after Hurricane Delta made landfall as a Category 2 storm near Creole, La., at about 6 p.m. Friday. With winds gusting to 100 mph in coastal Texas and 96 mph in Lake Charles, La., power lines that had already been weakened during Hurricane Laura in late August gave way.

According to PowerOutage.US, as of 7:30 p.m. Central time, 106,669 customers in Texas and another 225,213 in Louisiana had lost electricity. That figure is set to increase as the high winds from the storm sweep inland toward Lafayette and Alexandria, La.

More than 400,000 customers went without power in the wake of Hurricane Laura, many for weeks due to the extensive damage from that Category 4 storm.

October 9, 2020 at 7:48 PM EDT
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Hurricane Delta is record 10th named storm to make landfall in U.S. in a single year

By Jason Samenow

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been a record-breaker in more ways than one. When Delta formed on Monday as a tropical storm, it became the earliest 25th named storm on record, by more than a month.

Then, when it crashed ashore Friday evening near Creole, La., as a Category 2 hurricane, it became the 10th named storm to hit the United States in 2020, the most recorded in a single year, surpassing the nine in 1916.

As the above graphic makes clear, few locations along the U.S. and Atlantic Gulf Coasts have remained untouched.

Delta, the fourth storm to be named using a Greek letter because the 21 conventional storm names were used up, is the only Greek alphabet hurricane to strike the United States.

Delta also became the first Category 2 (or stronger) hurricane to strike Louisiana during the month of October since 1964.

The storm made landfall just 13 miles to the east of Hurricane Laura, which came ashore six weeks ago. 2020 is the first year multiple hurricanes have hit Louisiana since 2005.

October 9, 2020 at 7:26 PM EDT
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Hurricane Delta makes landfall near Creole, La., as a Category 2 storm

By Jason Samenow

At 7 p.m. eastern, the National Hurricane Center declared Hurricane Delta made landfall near Creole, La., as a Category 2 storm with 100 mph winds.

Creole is just 13 miles to the east of Cameron, La., where Hurricane Laura made landfall in late August.

Delta becomes the 10th named storm to make landfall in the United States in 2020, a record. It is also the first Greek-alphabet named hurricane on record to strike the country.

October 9, 2020 at 6:51 PM EDT
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Hurricane Delta’s eyewall strikes Lake Arthur, La., with sideways sheets of rain, violent winds

By Matthew Cappucci

LAKE ARTHUR, La. — The wind of Hurricane Delta’s eyewall, the most powerful portion of the storm, arrived suddenly in Lake Arthur, La. Gusts ramped upward from 30 to 75 mph in barely 10 minutes’ time, then climbed to near 85 mph around 5:15 p.m. local time.

Visibility dropped to less than 200 feet as the furious eyewall barreled through, with limbs and branches flying by. Rainfall rates of 3 to 4 inches per hour pressure-washed anything caught outdoors.

Torrential downpours flooded fields in a matter of minutes, water spilling onto area roadways. The gusts arrived in punctuated bursts, shaking cars to and fro.

Erratic wind shifts are a staple of the inner eyewall of hurricanes. While driving north, a row of power lines began to fall, forcing the driver to reverse at speeds between 20 and 30 mph. An alternative route was sought to avoid falling power lines.

October 9, 2020 at 6:11 PM EDT
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Rain totals grow, with flood warnings expanding inland in southwest Louisiana

By Jason Samenow

Flash flood warnings issued for the zone from Beaumont, Tex., east to Lafayette, La., have been expanded north as very heavy rain moves inland.

Lake Charles, part of the flood warning area, has received nearly 6 inches of rain.

Throughout this region, 3 to 7 inches of rain have fallen and an additional 2 to 6 inches are possible.

In a special bulletin, the National Weather Service wrote that some of the resulting flash flooding “could be significant” because of rainfall rates of up to 2 to 3 inches per hour as the core of Delta progresses inland.

The potential for excessive rain and flooding will expand from southwest Louisiana to central Louisiana overnight, including in the area around Alexandria.

October 9, 2020 at 5:28 PM EDT
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Sheets of rain, escalating winds in Lake Arthur, La., as Delta’s eyewall approaches

By Matthew Cappucci

LAKE ARTHUR, La. — Conditions were quickly deteriorating around 4 p.m. Central time on Friday as the increasingly ragged eyewall of Hurricane Delta trudged ashore. Winds gusting upward of 60 mph were ongoing south of Interstate 10 in southwestern Louisiana, and will increase dramatically between Lake Charles and Crowley, about 20 miles west of Lafayette, through 7 or 8 p.m.

A gust of 64 mph was measured at Calcasieu Pass, La.

Delta’s eyewall was ingesting dry air shortly before landfall, eroding precipitation south of the center. That means the northern section of the storm will be significantly more intense than the southern, conditions improving dramatically once the eye passes.

Before then, however, the eyewall — laden with gusts of 80 to 95 mph as it moves inland — must move through.

At 4 p.m., the eyewall was about 30 miles from Lake Charles, which could see gusts of 75 or 80 mph. Lake Arthur, Jennings, Welsh and Gueydan, between 25 and 45 miles east of Lake Charles, could see gusts approaching 90 mph or more.

Delta had an unusually large elliptical eye, close to 100 miles wide, a symptom of the expanding wind shield and a slow decrease in intensity. However, damaging winds and a dangerous storm surge are imminent as Delta makes landfall.

In Lake Arthur, set to experience the worst of Delta, the roadways were desolate. Sheets of rain fell, while an automated weather station trucked in for research stood sentry over the worsening weather.

Improvement can be expected south to north beginning around 9 p.m.

October 9, 2020 at 5:25 PM EDT
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Key points from the latest National Hurricane Center analysis

By Andrew Freedman

Hurricane Delta is a few hours away from landfall in a part of Louisiana that has already been through one devastating storm this hurricane season. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm’s predicted arsenal of high winds, storm-surge flooding and flash flooding from heavy rainfall are all coming together about as anticipated.

Here are a few takeaway messages from the Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. update:

  • Potentially deadly storm surge flooding is underway along the coast, with inundation of 7 to 11 feet above ground occurring along and to the east of where the center makes landfall.
  • Hurricane-force winds are occurring or will soon be felt along the coast of southwest Louisiana, with hurricane-force gusts then pushing inland.
  • Heavy rainfall at rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour at times will cause “significant flash flooding” through the overnight hours, mainly north of the storm’s center. The heaviest rain in the near-term looks to focus between Cameron, La., along the coast and Alexandria, La., where several inches have already fallen.
  • Though the storm is weaker than it was just a few hours ago, it still packs a punch, and a Category 2 storm can do major damage in areas with weakened infrastructure in the wake of Category 4 Hurricane Laura, which struck just a few miles away in late August.
October 9, 2020 at 5:07 PM EDT
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Tracking Hurricane Delta

By Jason Samenow

At 5 p.m. Friday, Hurricane Delta was centered 35 miles south of Cameron, La., moving north-northeast at 14 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 105 mph, a 10 mph decrease from the 11 a.m. National Hurricane Center advisory, dropping Delta from a Category 3 to a Category 2 hurricane.

Delta is expected to make landfall in the next two to three hours.

Hurricane-force winds expanded up to 40 miles from Delta’s center while tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 160 miles away. The Texas Coastal Ocean Observation Network station at Texas Point recently reported a wind gust of 78 mph while a gust reached 64 mph at Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana.

October 9, 2020 at 4:39 PM EDT
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Hurricane Delta’s eyewall, zone of most powerful winds, coming ashore

By Jason Samenow

The northern eyewall of Hurricane Delta, the zone of the most powerful winds surrounding its center, began to cross the coast just east of Cameron, La., around 4:15 p.m. (Cameron is also where Hurricane Laura made landfall six weeks ago.)

Winds were ramping up all along the coast both in southwest Louisiana and across the border into Texas as it approached:

  • A gust to 77 mph was clocked at Marsh Island, La.
  • The Texas Coastal Ocean Observation Network Station at Texas Point observed a 70 mph gust.
  • Nederland, Tex., recorded a 60 mph gust.

As the eyewall moves inland, gusts of 70 to 110 mph are likely over the next few hours. The area most likely to see winds this strong spans from Cameron to Lake Charles to the west and Lake Arthur to the east.

In addition to these damaging winds, extremely heavy rain will accompany the eyewall passage. Flash flood warnings remain in effect from Port Arthur to Lafayette, including Lake Charles, where four inches have accumulated.

The arrival of the eyewall also typically coincides with the greatest storm surge, which had climbed to nearly seven feet south-southwest of Lafayette.

October 9, 2020 at 4:33 PM EDT
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Lake Charles expected the worst during Hurricane Laura: ‘And the worst is what we got.’ Now another storm is bearing down.

By Dan Lamothe

LAKE CHARLES, La. — Two fire department officials — Captains Mark Ware and Delton Carter — watched Friday as wind gusts began to shove tree branches in their neighborhood in unusual directions. Most of the neighbors evacuated, they said, but some stayed after having bad experiences with Hurricane Laura.

“With the destruction that Hurricane Laura did, a lot of people are still waiting on insurance claims,” Ware said.

Carter said that the Lake Charles Fire Department planned to suspend services just after noon, when sustained winds of at least 40 mph were expected with gusts at least 20 mph higher. Such winds, he said, make it difficult to operate firetrucks safely.

Many of the garage doors in the neighborhood had sandbags in front of them to keep water out. A bathtub, waterlogged sheet rock and other items pulled from a home nearby sat on the front curb, with blue tarps nailed down over several roofs to provide protection after Laura stripped sections away. Before Laura, Carter said, Lake Charles prepared for the worst.

“And the worst is what we got,” he said.

By noon, conditions along Interstate 10, the main highway stretching east to west through southwestern Louisiana, began deteriorating rapidly. A wind gust of 60 mph was reported in Lake Charles, and downpours escalated dramatically. Vehicles traveling west along I-10 mostly crept well under the posted speed limits of 70 mph to 75 mph, as pooling water began to creep into travel lanes and drivers wrestled their vehicles against gusting winds.

On the side of the highway, most billboards were still shredded from Hurricane Laura. Those that had been replaced advertised lawyers to assist with insurance claims prompted by Laura’s damage.

October 9, 2020 at 4:15 PM EDT
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Water levels rising along Louisiana coast, with surge over 6 feet

By Jason Samenow

As the center of Hurricane Delta draws closer to the coastline, it is pushing a surge of ocean water inland, inundating low-lying areas.

A water level gauge at Freshwater Canal Locks, La., shows the surge is around 6.5 feet and rising. It is near low tide at this coastal location south-southwest of Lafayette, La, meaning the actual amount of inundation is around 5 feet, second highest on record at this location, trailing Hurricane Ike. As the tide starts to come in and the storm closes on the coast, the inundation will increase.

The National Hurricane Center projects a peak surge of 7 to 11 feet in this area.

At Calcasieu Pass, which is south-southwest of Lake Charles, La., the surge has topped 5 feet. In this area, the peak surge is projected to reach 5 to 8 feet.

October 9, 2020 at 4:06 PM EDT
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Louisiana governor: ‘This is a very tough time’

By Brittany Shammas

Bracing for Hurricane Delta while still suffering from the impacts of Hurricane Laura, Louisiana is in the midst of “a very tough time,” Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said during an afternoon news conference.

“We know that some people are still evacuated and families have not yet been reunified, so this is a very tough time,” he said. “But we also know the people of Louisiana, southwest Louisiana, are very resilient and tough and faithful.”

With the hurricane drawing closer, he said Louisianans needed to be focused on sheltering in place. More than 9,500 are in shelters, the majority due to Hurricane Laura. More than 800 are evacuees of Hurricane Delta.

Due to coronavirus protocols, a megashelter in Alexandria was capped at 833 people rather than its usual capacity of several thousand, the governor said. It is full, and people are being moved as necessary to shelters further north, he said, noting that Louisiana has had to deal with preparations for the storm while still “in a covid-19 public health emergency.”

“Just because we’re dealing with a natural disaster doesn’t mean that the public health emergency is going to call time out and allow us to do that without being compliant with all the covid protocols,” Edwards said.

October 9, 2020 at 2:41 PM EDT
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Flash flood warnings issued for Port Arthur and Lake Charles

By Matthew Cappucci

LAKE CHARLES, La. — Flash flood warnings were issued early Friday afternoon across the Golden Triangle of Southeast Texas and adjacent southwest Louisiana until 7 p.m. local time, as heavy rains from Hurricane Delta began to spread northward into the area.

Beaumont and Port Arthur, Tex., were included in the warnings, as was most of the Interstate 10 corridor in Acadiana Louisiana. Lake Charles, which had picked up more than two inches of rain, was also inside the warning.

A steady rain, with half-inch to brief one-inch-per-hour rainfall rates, had dropped a widespread two to three inches of water throughout the morning hours; 2.34 inches was measured between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. in Beaumont, with slightly less estimated by Doppler radar to the east.

Flash flood warning zones outlined in green polygons in above tweet.

Another three to five inches of rain was on the way, with localized eight to 12 inch totals likely. The heaviest will fall near and west of the eye in Delta’s western eyewall, within which rainfall rates could approach three inches per hour during the height of the storm this evening.

A separate arcing band on the northeast side of Delta dropped between eight and 10 inches of rain overnight into Friday morning on the northeast side of Baton Rouge. The National Weather Service in New Orleans issued flash flood warnings for that region, which have since expired.