Tracking The Tropics: Hurricane Delta inching closer to the U.S.

Weather Headlines

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- 6 AM Thursday Update– Hurricane Delta is continuing on its NW course through the Gulf of Mexico this morning. While it is still holding as a category two hurricane with sustained wind speeds of 100 MPH, it is forecast to briefly strengthen to a category three storm today before weakening as it nears landfall.

Speaking of landfall, Delta should do so on Friday afternoon somewhere along the western Louisiana Coastline and most likely near Lake Charles. If you recall, they were also impacted by Hurricane Laura just weeks ago.

After Delta makes landfall, it will weaken quickly which will help lessen the overall impacts for us here in Arkansas but keep in mind, we will still have some.

Impacts from Delta will increase starting Friday morning and last through early Sunday morning with Saturday being the main day we see the most impact.

Rain and wind will be the main concern with most activity occurring across the eastern 1/2 of the state. Because of the time of year that we are in, the agricultural community is harvesting and this is something they do not need.

Looking at rainfall a bit more in-depth, the highest totals should reside along and east of I-30 and US 67/167 corridors. Little Rock and areas immediately along those corridors will be right on the edge of a steep rain gradient. Any shift in Delta’s track will result in lower or even higher rainfall amounts. This is why the range is holding at 1 to 3 inches.

A flash flood watch may get issued for portions of far eastern and southeast Arkansas given the forecast amounts of 3 to 5 inches.

As mentioned above, the wind will be a factor as well. Wind speeds will pick up mainly on Saturday with sustained wind speeds of 15 to 25 mph. Wind gusts could reach 35 mph with one or two reporting sites near 40. Wind speeds will ease up Saturday evening.

Looking at some good news, the severe weather threat will be very low as the core stays just enough east for that problem to stay east of the Mississippi River.

7 PM Wednesday Update– After making landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula early Wednesday, Hurricane Delta has now emerged over the warm waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico where it is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane once again.

Landfall along the Louisiana coast is expected late Friday with a risk of damaging winds, excessive rainfall and a significant storm surge near and east of where Delta makes landfall.

Although winds will decrease quickly after Delta moves inland, heavy rain will be possible across a large part of Louisiana, Mississippi and the southeast half of Arkansas.

Rainfall totals of 2-5″ are possible south/east of the I-30/US67 corridor, 1-2″ over central Arkansas with under an inch of rain expected northwest.

FLASH FLOOD WATCHes will likely be issued for additional areas of the Mid South.

As Delta moves northeast along and east of the Mississippi River Friday night and Saturday, windy conditions are expected with gusts up to 30-40 mph possible especially over southeast Arkansas.

The risk of severe weather associated with Delta in Arkansas is extremely limited at this point.

7 AM Wednesday Update – Hurricane Delta made landfall around 5:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday just south of Cancun, Mexico near Puerto Morelos. At the time, its maximum sustained winds were about 110 mph, making it a Category 2 hurricane.

As of 7 a.m. CDT, Hurricane Delta remains a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. It is moving northwest at 17 mph.

Delta may continue to weaken a bit as the storm system interacts with the Yucatan Peninsula today. However, the hurricane will likely strengthen again as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico later today and Thursday.

Delta will turn North over the Gulf of Mexico as it moves around the western side of an upper level ridge over the Eastern Gulf and Florida. Wind shear is expected to increase somewhat as it moves over the Northern Gulf which could cause some weakening before landfall; however, Delta could still hit the Gulf Coast as a powerful hurricane by Friday.

The most recent forecast track has shifted slightly Westward, with landfall most likely for Louisiana late Friday.

Delta will weaken and turn northeast after landfall, but could still bring some very heavy rain well inland. Based on the current forecast track, heavy rain could impact eastern Arkansas Friday into Saturday with lighter rainfall amounts farther west. Two to four inches of rain are possible for eastern and southeast Arkansas.

All should clear out late Saturday, and Sunday should stay mostly dry for Arkansas. Click HERE for the latest local forecast.

11 AM Tuesday Update – Hurricane Delta rapidly intensified overnight, going from a Category 1 hurricane to a Category 4 in just 12 hours. Per the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) 10 AM Advisory, Delta has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and is moving quicker towards the west/northwest at 16 mph. It is located between Honduras and Cuba.

Delta is forecast to approach the Yucatan Peninsula as a major hurricane (category 3 or higher) Tuesday through Wednesday before moving into the Gulf of Mexico. As Delta moves over Cancun, Mexico, some weakening of the system may occur, but the hurricane will likely re-strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico in the coming days.

Delta will turn north over the Gulf as it moves around the western side of an upper level ridge over the eastern Gulf and Florida. Wind shear is expected to increase somewhat as it moves over the Northern Gulf which could cause some weakening before landfall, but Delta could still hit the Gulf Coast as a powerful hurricane by Friday night into Saturday morning.

There is still a lot of uncertainty in the forecast track, and Delta could make landfall anywhere from as far West as the Texas/Louisiana border to the Florida Gulf Coast. Much of the guidance Monday suggests that a landfall along the Louisiana coast is most likely.

Delta will weaken and turn northeast after landfall, but could still bring some very heavy rain well inland. Based on the current forecast track, heavy rain may occur in east/southeast Arkansas, though central and northwest Arkansas will likely stay relatively dry.

The highest rainfall totals coming from Delta will be east of Arkansas, across Louisiana and Mississippi – this is based on the current forecast path. A shift in the path west will result in higher rainfall totals for Arkansas. Current models predict potential for some downpours in east/southeast Arkansas to produce 2-4 inches of rain.

9 AM Monday Update – Tropical Storm Gamma is north of the Yucatan Peninsula and is slowly moving SSW at 2 mph. It weakened overnight Sunday and as of Monday morning has a maximum sustained wind of 45 mph. The convection (rain and thunderstorms) has been stripped away from Gamma as of this morning, but some redevelopment will be likely during the day Monday.

Gamma is expected to strike the western coast of the Yucatan Peninsula Wednesday afternoon as an even weaker storm at that time. It will likely be a tropical depression then with a maximum wind no greater than 35 mph. Gamma may reemerge into the western Gulf of Mexico Thursday night Friday morning as an even weaker tropical depression.

Just before 7 AM CDT, Monday, Tropical Storm Delta was named in the Caribbean south of Jamaica. As of 9 AM, Monday, Delta had a maximum sustained wind of 40 mph and is expected to strengthen. It is moving faster than Gamma. Delta is moving WNW at 9 mph. Strengthening of Delta is expected.

Delta may strike the western tip of Cuba Tuesday evening as a strong tropical storm with a maximum wind close to 70 mph. Then it is expected to emerge into the Gulf of Mexico and strengthen into a hurricane. Delta is expected to be a Category 2 Hurricane Thursday with a maximum wind of at least 96 mph. Landfall is possible Friday as a Cat 2 Hurricane Friday anywhere from Galveston, TX to Pensacola, FL. It will most likely occur in southern Louisiana.

Arkansas, especially East Arkansas, could get some rain from Delta Friday. Rainfall totals should generally be one inch or less in Arkansas, but far Southeast Arkansas may get over one inch. Both the GFS and ECMWF agree on that solution.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- 4 PM Sunday Update – Tropical Storm Gamma continues to sit just north of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is not moving and maintains maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. Majority of the convection with this tropical storm is away from the center of the storm.

Gamma is the third named storm on the Greek alphabet list and the 24th named storm for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season.

The weather pattern that is forecast to evolve over the next few days in the region will help keep Gamma away from the United States through the end of the work week. Gamma will shift southward into the Bay of Campeche before taking a northern curve late this week. Its track after Thursday is undetermined at this time.

Meanwhile, behind tropical storm Gamma is another tropical wave with a high chance of development.

The National Hurricane Center is giving this wave an 80% chance of formation in 2-5 days. It will likely track northwest into the Caribbean Sea over the next couple days. By mid-week, it may enter the Gulf of Mexico.

Impacts to the Gulf Coast are looking more probable, but it is too early to tell who may be in the target area and how strong the tropical system will be. Check back to this page as we continue to update the tropical forecast.

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