For the latest information on Hurricane Delta visit the National Hurricane Center’s website HERE
From Staff & AP Reports
Residents across the Gulf Coast and in inland areas such as Greene County are focusing their attention once again on the Gulf of Mexico. Or at least they should be.
Hurricane Delta made landfall Wednesday just south of the Mexican resort of Cancun as an extremely dangerous Category 2 storm, downing trees and knocking out power along the northeastern coast of Yucatan Peninsula, but without immediate reports of deaths or injuries.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said satellite imagery, radar data from Cuba and surface observations in Mexico indicate that the center of Delta came ashore around 5:30 a.m. local time, sustaining top winds of 110 mph
Delta had rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds Tuesday but weakened slightly before landfall. Even with the slight decrease in intensity Delta was still an extremely dangerous storm with a life-threatening storm surge that could raise water levels 9 to 13 feet, along with large and dangerous waves and flash flooding inland.
The official definition of rapid intensification of a hurricane is 35 mph in 24 hours. Delta increased in strength by 80 mph from 2 p.m. Monday to 2 p.m. Tuesday, with maximum wind speeds more than doubling from 60 mph to 140 mph in that timeframe.
Delta was forecast to spend several hours lashing the Yucatan Peninsula before moving into the Gulf of Mexico and growing into a “considerably larger” storm before striking the U.S. Gulf coast. People in Louisiana or Mississippi should prepare now for hurricane-force winds to begin hitting coastlines on Friday, the hurricane center advised.
“While there is large uncertainty in the track and intensity forecasts, there is a significant risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle beginning Thursday night or Friday,” the Hurricane Center said in an official statement Tuesday afternoon. “Residents in these areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and monitor updates to the forecast of Delta.”
Greene County Emergency Management Agency Director Trent Robertson hit on this point as well late Tuesday, noting that he hopes several near misses, particularly this hurricane season, have not caused area residents to become complacent.
“We all need to be prepared because the law of chance is going to catch us at some point,” Robertson told the Herald. “We’ve been really blessed since 2005 not to have any major hurricanes impact our county and I hope we can say that at the end of this hurricane season.”
“But clearly there is no guarantee of that, particularly as active as this hurricane season has been.”
Beach communities on the Alabama coast are still clearing away the damage from Hurricane Sally, which made landfall at Gulf Shores on Sept. 16, as they warn people to be ready for Hurricane Delta. Cleanup also continues in parts of Louisiana and Texas fol lowing earlier hurricanes.
Robertson said residents should keep a close eye on weather reports and make sure they don’t wait too long before finalizing their preparations.
“Folks need to make sure they have several days of food and water on hand and have their vehicles fully fueled and have fuel for generators if they plan to use one in the case of power outage,” Robertson said. “Supplies can become short rapidly so it isn’t a good idea to wait until the last minute.”
“Go ahead and make those preparations now just in case.”
Other generally-accepted guidelines for hurricane preparedness include having:
– at least a 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day);
– at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
– a good flashlight, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) with plenty of extra batteries;
– a good first aid kit along with a 7-day supply of your prescription medications and medical supplies; and
– extra cash.
Editor’s Note: multiple AP writers contributed to this report.