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.

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.

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

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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. Coastal Hazard Message
    National Weather Service Melbourne FL
    351 AM EDT Fri Oct 16 2020
    
    FLZ047-054-059-064-141-147-190300-
    /O.NEW.KMLB.CF.A.0002.201017T1100Z-201019T0300Z/
    Southern Brevard-Indian River-St. Lucie-Martin-Coastal Volusia-
    Northern Brevard-
    351 AM EDT Fri Oct 16 2020
    
    ...COASTAL FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH
    SUNDAY EVENING...
    
    * WHAT...Coastal flooding possible.
    
    * WHERE...Along the central Florida Atlantic coast, including
      Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, Saint Lucie and Martin Counties.
    
    * WHEN...From Saturday morning through late Sunday evening.
    
    * IMPACTS...Low lying property including homes, businesses and
      some critical infrastructure may be inundated around the times
      of several high tide cycles. Moderate erosion may also occur
      along the beaches and at the dune line.
    
    * ADDITIONAL DETAILS...The highest tides of the year thus far,
      also known as "King Tides", will occur this weekend, with peak
      storm tides between 4 and 6 feet forecast. High tides this
      weekend will occur Saturday from 800 to 900 AM and from 900 to
      930 PM, and on Sunday from 930 to 1000 AM and again from 1000 to
      1030 PM.
    
    
    PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...
    
    Conditions favorable for coastal flooding are expected to
    develop. Coastal residents should be alert for later statements
    or warnings and take necessary actions to protect flood-prone
    property.
    
    &&
    
    $$
    
  2. well still a lil early but now even NHC is sensing a storm may form in the carribean ..if it Does form.. then a big congrats to the GFS’s up Dating it worked…2 weeks in advance..sensing a storm forming there

  3. well regardless..it seems the end of October,,tropical wise..will be getting active again..good luck to us all

  4. Will everyone keep me posted on the weather.
    I live in Lake Charles and the internet is more down than up.

  5. Update NWS Miami...1039 AM EDT Wed Oct 14 2020
    
    ...Atlantic: Higher Than Normal Tides Over The Next Several Days...
    
    This hazardous weather outlook is for South Florida.
    
    .DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT
    
    Coastal Flooding: Higher than normal tides (highest predicted tides
    of the year) could lead to minor coastal flooding around the periods
    of high tide.
    
    Waterspouts: An isolated waterspout cannot be ruled out over the
    Atlantic waters today.
    
    .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...THURSDAY THROUGH TUESDAY
    
    Higher than normal tides (highest predicted tides of the year) could
    lead to minor coastal flooding through the forecast period.
    
    Shower and thunderstorm chances and associated hazards pick back up
    late week as a cold front approaches the region. Breezy easterly winds
    are expected this weekend which may lead to hazardous marine and
    boating conditions along with an increase in the threat of rip
    currents along the east coast beaches of South Florida.
    
    .SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...
    
    Spotter activation will not be needed.
    
    For more information...visit the National Weather Service in
    Miami website at www.weather.gov/miami.
    
    $$
    
    RAG
    

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