After making landfall as a Category 2 hurricane Friday night in southwest Louisiana, Delta rapidly weakened and by Saturday morning was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved across the state, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.
Storm surge and flash floods continued to pose dangers across much of southwestern Louisiana and parts of neighboring Texas. Mississippi also got its fair share of rain overnight.
After moving across northeastern Louisiana, the storm is expected to cross northern Mississippi and move into the Tennessee Valley later Saturday and Sunday, the National Hurricane Center says.
Delta made landfall Friday evening near the coastal town of Creole — only 15 miles or so from where Laura struck land in August, killing at least 26 people. It then moved directly over Lake Charles, a waterfront city about 30 miles inland where the earlier hurricane damaged nearly every home and building, and where moldy mattresses, sawed-up trees and other debris still lined the streets.
The latest as of 8 a.m. ET:
- More than 780,000 customers were without power Saturday morning in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, according to poweroutage.us.
- The center of Delta was located about 45 miles south-southeast of Monroe, Louisiana, and was moving north-northeast at about 16 mph, as of the 5 a.m. National Hurricane Center advisory. Top winds have decreased to near 45 mph and additional weakening is forecast.
- All watches and warnings for Delta were discontinued in the 5 a.m. advisory.
- The storm will continue to bring tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rains to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas on Saturday.
- The threat for tornadoes remains Saturday for eastern Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, and western and central Georgia, forecasters said.
Louisiana update: Delta ‘worse than we even thought’ in Lake Charles
Almost 600,000 customers were without power in Louisiana early Saturday, according to poweroutage.us.
State police were urging residents to remain weather aware and avoid travel in inclement weather. In Acadiana, about 90 miles east of Creole where the storm made landfall, many traffic lights were out, and trees and power poles had fallen across roads.
In Lake Charles, just north of Crole, the Vermillion River at Lafayette was at 16.6 feet just before 8 a.m. ET. Flood stage there is 10 feet. Bayou Vermillion near Carencro is at 16.19 feet; flood stage is 17 feet, according to the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.
State Sen. Ronnie Johns said early Saturday that Delta is “worse than we even thought (in Lake Charles and Sulphur) again. We’re getting tore up again. It’s disheartening, but we’ll be OK.”
– Barbara Leader, Lafayette Daily Advertiser | 8:25 a.m. ET
Mississippi update: Downed trees, almost 100K without power
Nearly 95,000 customers in Mississippi were without electricity as of Saturday morning.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation reported trees and debris had blocked lanes of several highways in counties near the western border. A tree fell on an apartment building in Natchez, WLBT-TV reported, but no one was injured.
Parts of McComb near the Louisiana border lost power overnight, including the Waffle House off of I-55. The Waffle House, an informal bellwether of how an area is faring after a storm, remained open, despite the darkness.
Employees used flashlights and cooked with gas to provide a limited menu.
Kevin Long, 38, on Friday sat on the porch of the Under-the-Hill Saloon, a bar that overlooks the Mississippi River in Natchez. Long, an electrician and construction superintendent, typically works on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, but he’s only worked six days in the past month due to storms and hurricanes.
“We’ve been hit pretty hard here in the last month,” Long said.
– Giacomo Bologna and Lici Beveridge, Mississippi Clarion Ledger | 8:30 a.m. ET
Delta made landfall near where Hurricane Laura struck
The mayor of Lake Charles in southwest Louisiana says tarps that were put up to protect buildings damaged six weeks ago by Hurricane Laura were flying off in Delta’s strong winds.
“Tarps are being blown off all throughout the city,” Mayor Nic Hunter said by phone after Delta made landfall Friday evening with winds topping 100 mph. He was hunkered down in a secure location in downtown Lake Charles.
He added: “I’m in a building right now with a tarp on it and just the sound of the tarp flapping on the building sounds like someone pounding with a sledge hammer on top of the building. It’s pretty intense.”
He said piles of unsecured debris from Laura are also being tossed about in Delta’s high winds. He said some of the debris was moving into the streets and floating in water.
— The Associated Press | 8:50 p.m. Friday
Delta radar, path: Map below updates in real-time
Why have Louisiana and the Gulf Coast been magnets for hurricanes in 2020?
Louisiana has been a punching bag during the 2020 hurricane season, whether taking a glancing blow from Tropical Storm Cristobal in June, a whiff from Hurricane Marco in August, a haymaker from Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 and a late-round blow from Hurricane Delta on Friday night.
“This season has been relentless,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said earlier this week.
Ben Schott, the lead meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s New Orleans station, blamed La Niña as a major factor in the record-breaking season.
“If you go back to the beginning of the season it was forecast to be very active,” Schott said. “La Niña is a good setup for storms to develop in the Atlantic.”
As for why Louisiana has been a magnet for storms in 2020, Schott said: “It’s just bad luck.”
“I hate to say it that way, but it’s true,” he said. “I can’t give you a scientific reason we’ve been the target. It just seems like the atmospheric factors that steer these storms have set up to steer them our way this year.”
– Greg Hilburn, Monroe News-Star