Hurricane Delta is barreling toward the Yucatán Peninsula where it is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane early Wednesday morning near Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo.
An orange “high risk” alert has been issued for Cancún, Lázaro Cárdenas, Solidaridad, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Benito Juárez, Puerto Morelos and Tulum.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Delta was a Category 3 cyclone as of 10:00 a.m. CDT on Tuesday, and was located 520 kilometers east-southeast of Cozumel with maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour.
Additional strengthening is predicted during the next 24 hours, and Delta is forecast to be an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane when it reaches the Yucatán peninsula on Wednesday, the NHC said.
President López Obrador has ordered the deployment of 5,000 soldiers in advance of the storm. “The instruction has been given to mobilize up to 5,000 elements with all the necessary equipment to protect the public, and hopefully Hurricane Delta loses strength,” the president told his morning press conference. Shortly after Delta was upgraded from Category 2 to Category 3.
The evacuation of tourists from Cancún’s hotel zone began last night and continues today before Delta’s effects begin to be felt later this afternoon.
Rainfall is expected to be significant in Cancún and Tulum as it makes its way north over the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall a second time in the United States between Louisiana and Florida. Some parts of the Yucatán Peninsula may experience 254 millimeters of rain, which may cause severe flooding.
“Extremely dangerous storm surge and hurricane conditions are expected” within portions of the northern Yucatán Peninsula beginning tonight, and a hurricane warning is in effect from Tulum to Dzilam, Yucatán, the NHC said.
Water levels on the Yucatán Peninsula coast are expected to rise two to three meters due to the storm surge, which will cause large and destructive waves.
Delta is expected to have a significant impact in a region still cleaning up from Tropical Storm Gamma which hit the region over the weekend.
It is the 25th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, and meteorologists have had to turn to the Greek alphabet after running through all the predetermined names.
This year could surpass 2005 as the busiest hurricane season on record in the Atlantic. That year six storms were named for Greek letters whereas this year four have been used so far. Hurricane season officially ends on November 30.
UPDATE October 6, 11:30 a.m. CDT: The U.S. National Hurricane Center has advised that Delta is now a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 215 km/h and is rapidly strengthening.
Source: Milenio (sp)