08 October 2020

Hurricane Delta following in Hurricane Laura's footsteps

In the 2+ weeks since my previous post (the first half of that was due to the Atlantic taking a break, and the second half was due to me taking a break), there was Tropical Storm Gamma and Hurricane Delta. Tropical Storm Gamma lasted for just under three days and was located near the Yucatan peninsula.  Then right behind it was Delta, the season's 25th named storm and 9th hurricane. Delta experienced a period of remarkable rapid intensification on October 6th, jumping from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in one day as it approached the northern Yucatan peninsula... reminiscent of Wilma in 2005.

As of Thursday afternoon, Delta is a powerful Category 3 hurricane and is headed north toward Louisiana. A clear eye is becoming evident, signaling some additional strengthening. As the title of the post mentions, Delta's landfall location will be almost identical to Laura's back in late August.  Much of that area has still not cleaned up or started to recover before Delta's arrival. The last time two hurricanes impacted western Louisiana in the same year was 1886.

As it tracks north, it will encounter slightly cooler water temperatures, lower ocean heat content, and somewhat drier air; these factors should limit significant intensification prior to landfall (meaning a Category 4 or 5 is very unlikely).

Landfall is expected in western Louisiana on Friday evening, though conditions are already going downhill with rising water levels and outer rainbands scraping the coast. Tropical storm force winds should begin in coastal areas of eastern Texas and Louisiana by Friday morning.

No major changes in intensity are expected, so it should make landfall as a Category 2-3 hurricane, and produce a 7-11-foot storm surge to the right of its center. Rainfall totals could reach one foot in parts of western Louisiana.

The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) for the season is about 138% of the average value through October 8. Other years that had higher values by this date were 2019, 2017, 2010, 2008, etc -- in other words, this season is not that notable by this metric. Sure, we have cruised through named storms at a record pace, but 14 of the 25 named storms were around for three days or less!

Elsewhere across the basin, no new activity is expected in the coming week. But if and when the time comes, the next couple of names on the list are Epsilon and Zeta.

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