Louisiana, which has repeatedly been battered by storms this hurricane season, is preparing for yet another: Hurricane Delta, which is expected to bring winds, heavy rain and life-threatening storm surge to portions of the northern Gulf Coast as it makes landfall on Friday evening.
Delta was about 160 miles south of Cameron, La., with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour, with higher gusts, according to an advisory at 8 a.m. Eastern from the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to weaken after it moves inland.
A storm surge warning was in effect for High Island, Texas, to Ocean Springs, Miss., while a hurricane warning was issued for High Island, Texas, to Morgan City, La., the center said.
Delta is forecast to produce as much as 15 inches of rain from southwest into south-central Louisiana through Saturday. The heavy rain could create hazardous conditions like flash flooding along with minor to major river flooding.
“Preparations for the arrival of Hurricane #Delta need to be rushed to completion, with tropical-storm-force winds expected to reach the coast in the next couple of hours, making preparations dangerous or impossible to complete,” the center Tweeted on Friday morning.
In the United States, along a wide swath of the northern Gulf Coast, which was heavily battered by Laura in late August and Sally in September, life is still not back to normal. Those storms had caused extensive property damage and several deaths.
Hurricane Delta, the 25th named storm of the busy 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, could end up strafing Lake Charles, La., a city still recovering from Laura.
Many of the blue tarps that cover damaged homes across the area may soon be whipped away by the wind, said Bryan C. Beam, the administrator of Calcasieu Parish, whose seat is Lake Charles. The debris along the roadsides may turn into flying projectiles. The choked-up drainage canals may overflow, creating new and dangerous flood patterns.
Electricity was finally restored in full last week — but homes could again be plunged into darkness, he said.
“It’s like a boxer going in the ring a few weeks later after getting pounded,” Mr. Beam said. “You can only take so much in a short period of time. We’re a very resilient people. But it’s very tough right now.”
Nic Hunter, the mayor of Lake Charles, on Thursday urged residents to leave.
“The latest track for Hurricane Delta does not look good for Lake Charles,” he wrote on Facebook. “You need to evacuate. You need to leave town.”
This hurricane season has been one of the most active on record. Last month, meteorologists ran out of names after a storm named Wilfred formed in the Atlantic. Subtropical storm Alpha, the first of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet, formed quickly thereafter, becoming the 22nd named storm since May.
Louisiana has been in the path of six major storms since June, and along with the wildfires in the West, they have brought fresh attention to the effects of climate change, which has likely contributed to the intensity of the storms and the persistence and size of the fires.
Hurricane Delta has already hit southeastern Mexico near the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula, making landfall there early Wednesday. The storm knocked out power, felled trees, shattered windows, and caused scattered flooding in cities and towns along the Caribbean coast. But regional and federal officials said they had received no reports of deaths.
Visitors and residents of the region breathed a sigh of relief that the storm, which had grown to a Category 4 before weakening, had delivered a lesser punch than many there had anticipated.
As Delta made its way toward the Louisiana coastline this week, it upended college football, which had delivered a welcome hint of normalcy to the Gulf States in a year made abnormal by the persistence of the coronavirus crisis.
In addition, a sprawling number of schools and local colleges in southern Louisiana were forced to close as several parishes were placed under either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, driving residents from their homes yet again this season.
On Thursday night, Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said Delta was set to strike nearly the same areas that Laura had devastated in August.
“And we believe that there will be hurricane force winds and storm surge in southwest Louisiana, in the area of our state that is least prepared to take it,” Mr. Edwards said in a news conference, warning that residents in the area would be tested.
It was a tiring reality that informed the wisdom imparted by Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, as he also declared a state of emergency this week. “Prep for the worst,” he said. “Pray for the best.”
Chelsea Brasted reported from New Orleans, Richard Fausset from Atlanta, and John Schwartz from New York. Alan Blinder contributed reporting from Atlanta, and Derrick Bryson Taylor from London.