According to the US National Hurricane Center, the Hurricane Delta landed about halfway between the Mexican resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen in the city of Puerto Morelos.
Delta has winds of 110 mph, making it a strong Category 2 storm. The hurricane will hit the Yucatan Peninsula quickly on Wednesday morning and later reappear in the Gulf of Mexico.
Once delta is back over open water, it will likely turn into a major hurricane again before turning north toward the Louisiana coast. Hurricane watches and Storm Surge watches are expected to be on display on the US Gulf Coast later Wednesday.
[Previous story, published at 6:56 a.m. ET]
The winds dropped to 115 mph early Wednesday morning prior to an expected landing between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. CT (7 a.m. and 9 a.m. ET).
Hurricane Delta, a Category 4 storm, is expected It brings with it storm surges of 8 to 12 feet and tropical storm winds when it hits the Yucatan, where Cancun and Cozumel are located. Atlantic storms this season have largely spared the area.
People across the peninsula prepared for Tuesday’s storm by buying supplies from grocery stores. A video from CNN subsidiary TV Azteca showed how to nail down buildings with plywood and fill large jugs with water.
Dozens of tourists evacuated from their hotels wore masks and chatted while they waited for transportation, the video showed.
Others waited for flights out of the area, many canceled or delayed due to the storm.
The wind speed tripled in just over a day
Delta’s wind speeds tripled in 30 hours – from a tropical depression with winds of 35 mph on Monday morning to a Category 4 storm with winds of 145 mph before subsiding slightly. The maximum sustained winds increased 85 mph in 24 hours, most in one day this year.
The storm is expected to stay in a Category 3 if it hits Mexico before weakening over land. But once it passes the Yucatan Peninsula, it will hit the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters say this can move Delta back to Category 3 as it approaches the US Gulf Coast.
States along the Gulf of Mexico are preparing for Delta. Governors in Alabama and Louisiana are making emergency declarations and evacuating states that are still recovering from storms early in the season.
Six hurricanes have struck within 50 miles of Cancun in the past 100 years, only two of which were above Category 3. Hurricane Gilbert struck in 1988 with winds of 160 mph, and Hurricane Wilma decimated the area in 2005 with winds of 130-140 mph. Hurricane Emily also hit the peninsula in 2005.
Evacuations before the storm
More than 700 military personnel and 47 official vehicles are conducting security tours, checking tributaries and evacuating the most vulnerable.
On Tuesday, the hotel’s evacuees moved to emergency shelters, waiting for further journeys to get home between canceled and delayed flights.
“ We’re trying to go because of the hurricane. We’re just trying to get out of here. Our flight was actually tomorrow, so we changed it to today to get out of here, “Blake Greer of Texas told TV Azteca.” We caught a flight to Mexico City and will be flying home tomorrow. “
Signs of the storm were already apparent on Tuesday evening, when strong winds blew trees and rough surf washed over the beach, a video from TV Azteca showed.
On the Gulf Coast, nearly 10% of manned oil rigs shut down before the storm, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which activated its hurricane response team in anticipation of the hurricane delta. Personnel were evacuated from at least one rig.
US states are preparing for life-threatening conditions
New Orleans-based Entergy is monitoring the storm and preparing to respond in Louisiana. The utility was busy restoring the distribution and transmission infrastructure after the devastation Hurricane Laura had caused, so that 93,000 customers ran out of electricity at their peak.
The utility announced just last week that it had restored power to all accessible customers in severely affected southwest Louisiana.
“The Hurricane Delta is an incredibly dangerous storm that will bring high winds, rain and life-threatening floods and storm surges to the Louisiana coast. Everyone in southern Louisiana should pay close attention to the weather and the advice and directions of their local residents in the coming days note officials, “Edwards said in the press release.
Deltas life-threatening storm surges, widespread noxious winds and flooding will be significant, Ben Schott, director of the New Orleans National Weather Service, said during a briefing Tuesday.
The storm won’t hit until Friday morning at the earliest, he said, but if the storm slows down it could be until Saturday morning. The entire coast of Louisiana could see tropical storm winds, said Schott.
New Orleans officials said they would continue to monitor the hurricane delta “minute by minute” to see if evacuations were necessary.
A mandatory evacuation for tourists on the Alabama Gulf Coast, including Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Dauphin Island, and unincorporated areas of Ono Island and Fort Morgan, is due to begin Wednesday morning.
“This is for their safety and wellbeing, as well as the safety and wellbeing of the locals who are working to prepare their communities in the event the Hurricane Delta goes east,” Ivey said in a statement.
“As the Gulf Coast residents know all too well, these storms are unpredictable and I strongly encourage everyone to take the Hurricane Delta seriously,” said Ivey.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has allocated numerous resources across the state to prevent the storm that the hurricane delta may cause, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“Texans are urged to take immediate precautions to protect themselves from the effects of this storm,” Abbott said in the press release.
Historical storm and season
It is the strongest storm in the Greek alphabet in history. The Greek alphabet is used to designate storms once the entire hurricane name list has been used for a given year – which has only happened twice – once in 2005 and again this season in 2020.
Delta will be the 10th named storm to land in the US this season, setting the record for the largest in a year. The season is currently linked to 1916 when nine storms landed. It will be the fifth hurricane to land, joining Hanna, Isaias, Laura and Sally. These will be most of the storms the US has seen since 2005
It will be the fourth named storm to land in Louisiana when it hits. These would be the most storms the state has ever seen.
This year is still on its way to some of the most iconic storms in the history of the Atlantic Basin.
CNN’s Tina Burnside, Gisela Crespo, Kay Jones, Joe Sutton, Haley Brink and Devon Sayers contributed to this report.