Nearly half a million homes in Louisiana were reportedly without power early Saturday morning, hours after Hurricane Delta landed in the Gulf Coast state.
Nearly 465,000 Louisiana households were affected by the outage at 11:30 p.m. CT on Friday, according to poweroutage.us. The number rose to more than 480,000 households shortly after midnight.
At 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm, according to a notice from the National Hurricane Center.
At the time, the storm was located 15 miles east-southeast of Alexandria, La., With maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, the NHS adviser said.
Delta landed near Creole, La., Land at around 6 p.m. CT on Friday, with heavy rains and high winds in a region that has already been hit by multiple hurricanes this year.
On Friday morning, Delta was still off the Louisiana coast when it was downgraded from a Category 3 hurricane ̵
A little over an hour after landing, the storm weakened to a Category 1 as it moved further inland.
Delta had sustained winds near 100 miles per hour when it landed as a life threatening storm surge.
The wind was so strong that the shingles on the 8-room boutique hotel L’Banca Albergo in Lake Arthur were peeled off.
“I probably don’t have a rock upstairs at this hotel,” owner Roberta Palermo told The Associated Press.
She said the power went out and across the street she could see bits of metal coming from the roof of a 100-year-old building. Unsecured trash cans flew around the streets.
In Watson, La., A tree fell on a man and briefly held him near his home, Baton Rouge’s WAFB-TV reported. He was eventually saved by the authorities.
In Galveston, Texas, nearly 100 miles west of Delta’s Landing, two houses under construction were overturned along with trees and signs. A construction company spokesman told the Galveston Daily News that the houses were in the early stages of framing.
The worst storm was on land between Lake Charles and Lafayette when Delta’s wall of eyes moved inland, The Weather Channel reported.
“It’s devastating and emotional for citizens,” said Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter as he prepared to weather the storm in downtown Lake Charles.
Damaged roofs and debris such as trees and mattresses from Hurricane Laura a few weeks ago still lined some streets. Hunter said tarps were seen when the winds came up.
Hours earlier, Delta landed along the Yucatan Peninsula and then strengthened as it traveled across the Gulf.
Fox News’ Brandon Noriega predicted the storm would land along Louisiana east of Cameron, where Laura landed in August.
“Delta is the fastest storm that amplifies from a tropical depression to a Category 4 storm in modern records,” said Michael Ventrice, meteorologist for The Weather Company. The delta intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane for more than 36 hours earlier this week, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
The storm is expected to weaken as it moves across the state into Saturday morning, where it will most likely be downgraded to a tropical storm. These lower speeds can still cause significant damage to a region that has already suffered multiple previous storm systems.
“The fact that it is getting weaker shouldn’t cause anyone to lose focus or vigilance as this is still a very strong storm,” Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards said during a news conference on Friday as Delta apparently lost strength before landing.
Laura hit the same region six weeks ago, devastating parts of Texas, Louisiana and Florida with floods and wind damage.
The rapid changes in storm strength made it difficult for states to prepare before landing as preparations “accelerated” ahead of the weekend, the NHC tweeted.
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Some tornadoes will also be possible, particularly east of where the center of the system comes ashore. The greatest threat from tornadoes is in the southern parts of Louisiana and Mississippi as of late Wednesday night.
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The extreme east of Texas, Louisiana, southern Arkansas, and western Mississippi can experience significant flooding from falls, towns, and creeks.
The total rainfall between 5 and 10 inches will spread through the valleys of the Lower Mississippi River and Tennessee River by Saturday.
Forecasters said the storm surge could range as high as 11 feet along the Louisiana coast. Hours before landing, the National Hurricane Center reported a storm surge of 4.5 feet on the coast east of Cameron.
At 7 a.m. on Friday, Delta had caused a storm surge along the Gulf Coast, with rising waters of up to 7 to 11 feet in normally dry areas.
In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency earlier this week and said resources to assist residents would be strengthened. The state is expected to feel the effects of Delta through Saturday.
The storm is a record breaking 10th storm in the US. The previous high was nine storms in 1916, USA Today reported.
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The storm is a record for Louisiana. Delta is the third major hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.