Hurricane Delta strengthens, landfall expected on Gulf Coast this week

Weather

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Hurricane Delta is gaining strength as the storm is projected to barrel by the Cayman Islands early Tuesday, before hitting Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The storm could strike the U.S. Gulf Coast later this week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Delta has maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour and is currently Category 1 as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico, the center said in a report published Tuesday at 2 a.m. ET.

The forecast shows Delta moving into the Gulf of Mexico around Wednesday.

Delta’s forecast track shows the storm approaching the northern Gulf Coast late this week as a hurricane.

“While there is large uncertainty in the track and intensity forecasts, there is an increasing risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle beginning Thursday night or Friday,” the National Hurricane Center said in a statement. “Residents in these areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and monitor updates to the forecast of Delta.”

Delta is the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and would be the 10th landfalling storm on the continental US this year, which would break the record of nine landfalls in a single season set back in 1916. 

Escambia County officials in Florida are urging residents to closely pay attention the storm and prepare.

“We’re treating this storm as if it’s going to be making landfall here, and forecasts are predicting this will likely be a wind event for us,” Escambia County Emergency Manager Eric Gilmore said in a media release. “We’re encouraging everyone to make their preparations now, and even if this turns out to be a non-event, we’re prepared.”

Residents in Escambia county are still dealing with debris in their yards, as contractors hired by the city and county have not been able to pick up all the debris from Hurricane Sally.

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said during a press conference about 70 crews would be working hard to get as much cleaned up as possible, but it wouldn’t be all cleaned up before Friday. A media release from the city says the crews will be working from sunup to sundown this week.

“We have done approximately 4,000 loads and about 176,635 cubic yards. That is over half the projected (debris). In two weeks, we have (picked up) over half of the debris,” Robinson said. “Unfortunately, that means to be completed, we would have to have another two weeks of work to do. This week, we will be working, and we will be working feverishly to get as much as we can up, but it is very likely that perhaps a quarter of Sally debris will not be picked up and will be on the side of the road.”

Contractors will continue collecting debris in all areas of the county, according to a media release, and have been approved to work additional hours.

The county and city crews are focusing debris management collections in the low lying areas that are susceptible to flooding such as Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach.

Residents need to bring their own sandbags. Sand is available on a first come, first served basis.

This is a developing story. Refresh for details.

NewsNation affiliate WKRG and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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