MORGAN CITY, La. (NewsNation Now) — A stretch of the northern U.S. Gulf Coast is under storm surge and hurricane warnings as Hurricane Delta restrengthened to a Category 3 storm on its path tracking toward Louisiana.
The National Hurricane Center said Thursday that Hurricane Delta continues to churn toward the Louisiana coast where it is forecast to make landfall Friday afternoon or evening. The Category 3 storm is moving north-northwest at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. Additional strengthening is possible Thursday night.
On the forecast track, the center of Delta is expected to move over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico Friday before moving inland within the hurricane warning area Friday afternoon or Friday night.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:
- High Island, Texas to Ocean Springs, Mississippi including: Calcasieu Lake, Vermilion Bay, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Lake Borgne
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
- High Island, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- West of High Island to Sargent, Texas
- East of Morgan City, Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River,
including New Orleans
- Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:
- East of the mouth of the Pearl River to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Some weakening is forecast as Delta approaches the northern Gulf Coast Friday with rapid weakening after the center moves inland, but the National Hurricane Center is warning of life-threatening storm surge up to 11 feet.
Forecasters place most of Louisiana within Delta’s path, including the southwest area of the state around Lake Charles, where Category 4 Hurricane Laura ripped houses from their foundations, peeled off roofs and tore trailers in half. Delta could blow ashore Friday with winds of up to 105 mph and a storm surge of up to 11 feet.
Lake Charles has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Wednesday night, and city officials worked to get people without transportation out of harm’s way. Mayor Nic Hunter warily watched Delta’s projected path as it moved steadily nearer to the spot where Hurricane Laura made landfall.
“When it first developed in my mind, I said, ‘No way, no way. There’s no way that this is going to hit us,’” Hunter said in an interview Thursday. “And then as it got closer, it just became a sad reality that this was going to happen.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards reached out to residents ahead of Delta’s expected arrival, saying in text messages and a 30-second robocall they should “prepare now and have your emergency plans in place.” Edwards said President Donald Trump approved his request to declare a federal emergency, which frees up federal resources.
In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves also declared a state of emergency. The Southern part of Mississippi could see heavy rain and flash flooding.
The National Hurricane Center is also warning about a risk of tornadoes, which forecasters predict will increase late Thursday into Friday over parts of southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southwest Alabama.
This story is developing. Check back for more updates.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.