Hurricane Delta
Moon-lit look at Tropical Storm Delta at 3:05 a.m. CDT October 10, from the NOAA-20 satellite. Delta at that point was well inland over Louisiana, and had weakened to 45 mph winds. (Image credit: University of Wisconsin CIMSS)

Hurricane Delta made landfall at 6 p.m. CDT October 9 near Creole, Louisiana – just 12 miles east of where category 4 Hurricane Laura hit on August 27. At landfall, Delta was a category 2 storm with 100 mph winds and a central pressure of 970 mb. Delta knocked out power to more than 750,000 customers in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi as of 7:30 a.m. CDT Saturday, according to poweroutage.us.

Figure 1. Radar image of Hurricane Delta at landfall in southwest Louisiana at 5:59 p.m. CDT Friday, October 9. (Image credit: Mark Nissenbaum/Florida State University)

Hurricane-force winds in Louisiana and Texas

Delta brought hurricane-force wind gusts to Louisiana and Texas, causing extensive wind damage. The highest winds observed in Louisiana were at Lake Arthur, which recorded sustained winds of 77 mph, gusting to 96 mph, around the time of Delta’s landfall. Some other peak wind gusts from Delta:

Texas Point, TX: 100 mph;
Lake Charles Regional Airport, LA: 94 mph;
Calcasieu Pass, LA: 90 mph;
New Iberia, LA: 90 mph;
Port Arthur, TX: 90 mph;
Cameron, LA: 89 mph;
Jennings, LA: 81 mph;
Lafayette, LA: 75 mph;
Opelousas, LA: 75 mph;
Lacassine, LA: 75 mph;
Alexandria, LA: 61 mph;
Baton Rouge, LA: 56 mph; and
New Orleans, LA: 49 mph.

Figure 2. 24-hour precipitation amounts ending at 7 a.m. CDT Saturday, October 10, based on a blend of radar estimates and rain-gauge reports. Delta dumped over 10 inches of rain (white colors) over portions of Louisiana. (Image credit: NOAA)

Rains in excess of 15 inches

Delta dumped torrential rains over much of Louisiana, with radar-estimated rainfall amounts of more than 15 inches between Lake Charles and Alexandria. The heavy rains led to serious flash flooding, and at least three rivers in Louisiana are predicted to go into major flood stage by Monday.

A significant storm surge

Delta generated a significant storm surge along the Louisiana coast near and to the right of where the center came ashore. The highest water level at any monitoring station was observed at Freshwater Canal Locks, where a storm surge of 9.3 feet occurred and was still rising before the gauge stopped transmitting data. Even so, this broke the site’s all-time record set during Hurricane Ike in 2008 by 0.25 feet. The station has recorded data only back to 2008, and it is likely that Hurricane Rita of 2005 brought a higher storm surge to the site.

The live storm surge tracker at Trabus Technologies documented these top storm surge heights from Delta:

Freshwater Canal Locks, LA: 9.3 feet;
Calcasieu Pass, LA: 6.6 feet;
LAWMA, Amerada Pass, LA: 6.3 feet;
Eugene Island, LA: 6.2 feet;
Texas Point-Sabine Pass, TX: 4.4 feet; and
San Luis Pass, TX: 3.3 feet.

Figure 3. Continental U.S. landfall in 2020. (Image credit: Steve Bowen, Aon)

Delta is record-breaking tenth named storm of a season to hit U.S.

Delta was the tenth named storm to make landfall in the U.S. in 2020, beating the record of nine U.S. landfalls in a single year, set in 1916. Third place is jointly held by 2004, and 1985, with eight. Remarkably, none of the 2020 landfalls have occurred in Florida, which is the most hurricane-prone state. From 1851 through 2019, the U.S. averaged 3.2 named storm landfalls per year, 1.6 hurricane landfalls, and 0.5 major hurricane landfalls.

Delta was the first U.S. landfalling “Greek” hurricane ever. On September 22, Tropical Storm Beta became the first U.S. landfalling “Greek” named storm in history. The only other year with “Greek” named storms, 2005, had three that made landfall: Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, all in the Caribbean.

Delta was the fifth landfalling hurricane in the continental U.S. this year, which is tied with 2004 and 2005 for the third highest on record. The record is held jointly by 1985 and 1886, with six landfalling hurricanes.

Delta was the fourth named storm to make landfall in Louisiana this year, along with Tropical Storm Cristobal, Tropical Storm Marco, and Hurricane Laura. This ties the record for most landfalls in a single season in Louisiana, set in 2002, when Tropical Storm Bertha, Tropical Storm Hanna, Tropical Storm Isidore, and Hurricane Lili all made landfall. Six previous seasons have had three landfalls in Louisiana: 1860, 1885, 1923, 1957, 2005, and 2017.

Delta rapidly intensified on its approach toward Cancun, Mexico, becoming the fifth 2020 hurricane to intensify by at least 35 mph in 24 hours, which is the National Hurricane Center definition of rapid intensification. The 2020 list of rapid intensifiers:

Hurricane Hanna, July 24 – 25, 35 mph in 24 hours
Hurricane Laura, August 26 – 27, 65 mph in 24 hours
Hurricane Sally, September 14 – 15, 40 mph in 24 hours
Hurricane Teddy, September 17 – 18, 45 mph in 24 hours
Hurricane Delta, October 5 – 6, 80 mph in 24 hours

Hurricanes Isaias, Marco, Nana, and Paulette did not rapidly intensify.

Figure 4. Departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average on October 10. SSTs were approximately 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9°F) above average in the Caribbean and in the waters surrounding Florida and the Bahamas. Hurricane Delta had caused substantial cooling of the Gulf of Mexico. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

A quiet period ahead for the Atlantic

There was only one area of interest in the Atlantic that NHC was monitoring on Saturday for tropical development – a tropical wave in the central Atlantic, midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands. This wave was under moderate wind shear of 15 – 20 knots, heading westwards at about 10 – 15 mph, and producing a modest amount of poorly organized heavy thunderstorm activity. In an 8 a.m. EDT Saturday tropical weather outlook, NHC gave the system 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 10% and 20%, respectively. By Wednesday, when the wave will be approaching the Lesser Antilles, wind shear is expected to rise to a high 20 – 30 knots, discouraging further development. Later in the week, this system will have to be watched for development when it enters the western Caribbean or waters near the Bahamas.

Also see: At least three named Atlantic storms likely during October

The top three models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis show nothing popping up over the next week, and the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) – a pattern of increased thunderstorm activity near the equator that moves around the globe in 30 to 60 days – is weak, and is not expected to be in a phase that will enhance Atlantic activity during the coming week. However, with ocean temperatures still much above average in the Caribbean and in waters surrounding Florida and the Bahamas (Figure 4), and in a season with a track record for spitting out record numbers of named storms, at least one or more likely will form in October. The next name on the Atlantic list of storms is Epsilon.

If the tropics remain quiet, as expected, our next post in this series will be on Wednesday, October 14.

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Posted on October 10, 2020 (1:25pm EDT).

Jeff Masters

Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...

107 replies on “Delta is record-setting 10th named storm to make U.S. landfall in a season”

      1. First off your source.. Watts Up With That?..always has the fake climate news spun round to keep us using non-renwables and is one that isn’t really accepted by this community as reliable news.. Yes some are reaching end of life, what is hitting the landfills now is not what is being sold today. That is mostly 25yr or older tech that is getting trashed. Your house is full of toxic elements and will someday mostly be trashed. The technology on both is getting better. They pulled a lot of old vinyl and other products out of the landfills and recycled it eventually. Hope the same for much of this. That article is full of trash though. We don’t have any govt support to recycle solar panels in the US because the solar industry has in general been flogged and sued endlessly by big oil as they worked thru the govt to encouraged keeping solar down. Acting like we need superfund laws to deal with old solar panels (that didn’t get sent to a poor nation to use the remaining life in them), like it’s a strip mine or is radioactive…lol. Recycling solar overall is a technology and economic goal we should be striving to work thru. Other countries require them to be recycled and the state of Washington. When you by gas at the pump you don’t pay for the pollution it caused. Nuclear electricity doesn’t include the costs of Superfund and long term storage. Neither pay for the cost in life the pollution caused or the climate change. As a society we’ve long ago decided electricity was more important. And we’ve had opportunity to learn from these mistakes. Some countries have. Here we are still pushing disposable non-renewables & and listening to Watts.. Wired had a much better article about the waste issue…which we can now foresee will be an issue in another 30yrs. We should be insisting on innovation and doing this right this time. And with solar cheaper than any other source it’s the new hot choice. https://www.wired.com/story/solar-panels-are-starting-to-die-leaving-behind-toxic-trash/

  1. In reply to NOT, as you point out, 93L has a short window of opportunity to develop before the upper level winds may become too strong and 93L runs the risk of dissipation. That is certainly a possibility. We should know soon.

  2. Regarding 93L, the late cycle models are split: 2 show 93L going north of the Greater Antilles, 2 show it hitting the Dominican Republic and 2 show it going into the Caribbean. As Dr. Jeff might say, the models work better after a depression forms. Stay tuned. Dr. Jeff returns Wednesday and will sort out 93L for us.

  3. India Meteorological Department
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #15 – 23:30 PM IST October 13 2020
    DEPRESSION BOB02-2020
    ====================================

    At 18:00 PM UTC, The Depression over Telangana moved further west northwestwards with a speed of 17 km/h during past 6 hours and lays centered near 17.6N 79.5E, about 110 km east-northeast of Hyderabad (Telangana) and 210 km eastsoutheast of Bidar (North Interior Karnataka).

    It is very likely to move further west northwestwards and gradually weaken into a Well marked low Pressure area during next 12 hours.

  4. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #19 – 3:00 AM JST October 14 2020
    TROPICAL STORM NANGKA (T2016)
    =============================================
    Gulf of Tonkin

    At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Nangka (990 hPa) located at 19.8N 108.7E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 12 knots.

    Gale Force Winds
    ==================
    270 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    120 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity:

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 19.6N 106.8E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Gulf of Tonkin
    24 HRS: 19.4N 104.3E – Tropical Depression over land Vietnam

  5. At 1 p.m. The Weather Channel just said 93l is being torn apart by wind shear and within 2 days there will be no more 93l it will be disintegrated… so all these models that the disguise site is showing a Florida Doom is all nonsense there will be no storm

    1. “We are wilfully destructive. That is the only conclusion one can come to”, with action on climate change and other major threats lagging, said Mami Mizutori, the U.N. Secretary-General’s special representative for disaster risk deduction.
      “COVID-19 is but the latest proof that political and business leaders are yet to tune into the world around them,” she added in a statement.

  6. GFS is becoming very good at seeing storms form a long way off in time..what differs eventually is where said storm begins to track to..air currents,fornts and highs all differ over time so where it goes changes..myself im starting to believe the GFS for formation…its just me and my opinion..also..the CMC model is also becoming quite good at seeing formation also it seems

    1. Art, different models are better at doing different things. I break it down to 4 categories. 1) Storm genesis. 2) Short term track after genesis. 3) Long term track. 4) Intensity prediction. . IMHO, GFS seems to be better at 1 and I like ICON for 2. Dr. Masters used to have blogs on model accuracy once in a while. / Keep posting the graphics. I have not been very successful copying graphics from Dr. Levi’s page. So thanks putting them up..

  7. India Meteorological Department
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #11 – 5:30 AM IST October 13 2020
    DEEP DEPRESSION BOB02-2020
    ===============================================
    At 0:00 AM UTC, The Deep Depression over west central Bay of Bengal moved west northwestwards with a speed of 17 km/h during past 6 hours and lays centered near 16.9N 82.5E, about 120 km nearly south southwest of Vishakhapatnam, close to (within 25 km) Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh) and 100 km nearly east northeast of Narsapur (Andhra Pradesh).

    Latest observations indicate that the system crossed northern Andhra Pradesh coast close to Kakinada (near 17.0N 82.4E) between 0630 & 0730 IST, as a deep depression with maximum sustained wind speed of 30-35 knots with gusts of 40 knots.

    The deep depression is being monitored by coastal Doppler Weather Radars of Machilipatnam, Visakhapatnam and Gopalpur. As per Radar imageries the rain bands lie along the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and adjoining interior Districts. Moderate convection also lies over south Odisha and Telangana.

    Forecast and Intensity
    ===========================================
    6 HRS: 17.3N 81.4E – 25 knots (Depression)
    12 HRS: 17.6N 80.3E – 25 knots (Depression)
    18 HRS: 17.9N 79.2E – Well Marked Low Pressure Area

    The numerical weather prediction models suggest that the remnant of existing deep depression over Bay of Bengal after crossing the peninsular India would emerge into east central and adjoining northeastern Arabian sea off northern Konkan-southern Gujarat coasts as a low pressure area around morning of October 15th.

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