At a Glance
Tropical Storm Delta is intensifying in the western Caribbean Sea.
Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and western Cuba will be the first areas impacted by this system.
Interests from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle should monitor the progress of this system closely.
Tropical Storm Delta is intensifying in the Caribbean Sea, could brush or strike the Cayman Islands and western Cuba, then poses an increasing hurricane danger to the U.S. Gulf Coast by late this week.
Forecast Timing, Intensity
This latest tropical storm, the 25th of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, first became a tropical depression late Sunday night, and is quickly gaining steam in the western Caribbean Sea south-southwest of Jamaica, moving to the west-northwest at 5 to 10 mph.
Delta is in an environment of the highest ocean heat content anywhere in the tropical Atlantic basin and low wind shear. Given that, Delta is likely to become a hurricane soon, and may intensify rapidly before it nears western Cuba.
The center of Delta is expected to continue tracking generally toward the northwest through Wednesday night, after which forecast guidance suggests that Delta will eventually turn northward toward the U.S. Gulf Coast late in the week.
Where and when that northward turn occurs will determine what areas see the greatest potential impacts, somewhere from Louisiana into the Florida Panhandle.
Delta is expected to be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane when it nears the U.S. Gulf Coast sometime later Thursday through Friday. However, the intensify forecast is still uncertain since this system could face increasingly unfavorable upper-level winds and cooler Gulf water as it draws closer to the U.S.
Despite any weakening near the Gulf Coast, Delta could still be a formidably strong hurricane at landfall late this week.
(The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. It’s important to note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding, winds) with any tropical cyclone usually spread beyond its forecast path.)
Strong winds and heavy rain will be possible across portions of Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands during the next few days. This could lead to dangerous flash flooding and mudslides in hilly or mountainous terrain.
A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels along the southern coast of western Cuba and on the Isle of Youth.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Cayman Islands where tropical storm conditions are expected beginning late Monday.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning are in effect for Cuba’s Isle of Youth, where hurricane conditions are possible by Tuesday afternoon.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Cuba’s Artemisa province. A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Cuban province of La Habana.
Current Watches and Warnings
U.S. Gulf Coast
It’s too early to determine specific forecast impacts from Delta on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
As mentioned earlier, Delta could be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast late in the week.
A dangerous storm surge, hurricane-force winds and flooding rainfall could threaten a part of the northern Gulf Coast. Those potential impacts are most likely to occur somewhere from Louisiana into the Florida Panhandle.
Conditions may begin to deteriorate along the northern Gulf Coast as soon as Thursday.
Tropical-storm-force Wind Arrival Times
(This is when winds of 40 mph may arrive and when it is too late to finish preparations. )
As with all tropical cyclones, impacts will also extend inland.
Delta is expected to gain forward speed through the Southeast Friday into Saturday.
That faster movement could spread strong, possibly damaging winds farther inland than what we saw with Hurricane Sally last month.
It could also lessen Delta’s extreme rainfall potential, though locally flooding rainfall is still expected, particularly along and to the east of its path and particularly over areas soaked from Sally’s prolific rain last month.
Residents along the northern Gulf Coast should update themselves on the forecast multiple times a day this week since forecast changes are likely.
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