Following a brief stint as a tropical storm, Delta became a full-fledged hurricane. In the span of 24 hours, Delta increased speed by 85 miles per hour, easily doubling the criteria for “rapid intensification”. According to the NOAA, a storm that increases in speed by 35 miles per hour in a 24-hour stretch is said to have experienced “rapid intensification”.
Delta saw its power and wind speed swell so dramatically due, primarily, to unusually warm water in the Caribbean. The pocket of the ocean the storm is currently hovering over is known for causing rapid intensification in October hurricanes.
As the storm strengthens, it immediately presents problems for the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and the Cayman Islands. Western Cuba could also experience tropical storm conditions.
On Tuesday, Delta became a Category 3 hurricane at an incredible pace. It’s expected to strengthen further as it approaches Mexico, and could impact the Yucatan region at Category 4. If it does so, it’ll be the strongest storm in 15 years to impact Cancun. This situation is developing rapidly, so interests in the Yucatan region should prepare to evacuate coastal areas if the storm maintains its current heading.
Category 4 hurricanes are known for their immense destructive power. Coastal regions are at risk of flooding due to storm surge and rainfall. With high wind speeds threatening to fling debris and topple structures, the fast-blowing storms are a threat even far inland. As such, evacuation orders are important to heed when hurricanes approach a coastline.
After making landfall over the Yucatan Peninsula, Delta is expected to continue along a northwestern path and carry back out into the Gulf of Mexico. Following this landfall, the storm is predicted to likely lose power over the Gulf as it continues north.
At some point, Delta is expected to make an eastern turn, though the timing of this turn is critical. Depending on when it occurs, the storm could impact as far west as Texas or as far east as the Florida panhandle.
Depending on where it strikes, the storm is likely to soak regions that have already been battered this very hurricane season. The 2020 season has been historically active, rivaled only by the 2005 season. In that season, some six storms were given names from the backup list of Greek letter names.
Now, Delta becomes the fourth storm of this season to be given such a name, and is the twenty-fifth storm to be named overall.