Delta’s peak winds decreased from 115 to 105 mph between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., dropping it from a Category 3 to Category 2 hurricane. But its dangerous eyewall, the zone of most intense winds, was nearing the Louisiana coastline and set to arrive after 4 p.m. Lake Charles recently clocked a 60 mph gust.
The storm’s wind field is large, with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 160 miles. The broadening footprint will cause the storm to affect a larger area and push a greater surge of water onto the coast.
The National Hurricane Center predicts a “life-threatening” storm surge inundation along a stretch of coastline between the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge to Morgan City, La., including low-lying areas south of Lafayette. There, the surge could reach 7 to 11 feet if it coincides with high tide. With the storm nearing the coast mid-afternoon Friday, the surge was over 6 feet and rising in this zone.
Hurricane force winds are expected to reach the coast late this afternoon. With storm debris and compromised structures from Hurricane Laura in some areas, high winds could present a more significant hazard than usual.
The storm is also forecast to produce up to 15 inches of rain in some areas, causing flash and river flooding.