LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Hurricane Delta is slowly weakening as of the 2:00 p.m. advisory with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and is now moving north-northeast at 14 mph. The storm is about 130 miles from the Cameron coastline and is forecast to undergo some slight weakening in intensity over the hours leading up to landfall, but only a few miles per hour, taking it down to category two status this afternoon.
The highest storm surge will be from Rockefeller Refuge east to Morgan City where a 7 to 11 foot surge is likely. Areas in eastern Cameron parish, anywhere east of the landfall are still looking at a 6 to 9 foot surge of water while locations west of the center won’t see water that high.
Winds and heavy rain are the primary threats inland as the strong bands of Delta push inland through the day, especially by late morning and afternoon as some of the more intense squalls arrive. These bands of rain will be accompanied by tropical-storm-force winds with some occasional gusts to hurricane force by this afternoon. Conditions will continue to deteriorate rapidly through the afternoon and early evening as Delta is set to make a landfall before sunset along the Cameron Parish coastline somewhere between Grand Chenier and the Vermilion Parish line.
Rainfall amounts between 5 and 10 inches are likely across Southwest Louisiana and a Flash Flood Watch is in effect until 7:00 AM Saturday morning. If you have not already evacuated, it’s too late. The timeline for evacuations should have been completed last night as weather conditions will quickly deteriorate after sunrise.
Now that the tracks looks to bring the center of the storm closer to eastern Cameron Parish, the primary change to the forecast will be a higher storm surge for parts of Cameron and stronger winds that will be felt through the entire viewing area. The strongest winds will be felt across Cameron, the eastern part of Calcasieu including the city of Lake Charles, all of Jeff Davis and Allen Parishes as far as the hurricane force winds. Stronger winds will also affect Beauregard and Vernon parishes but not to the same extent of the rest of our viewing area.
The only real good news is that this will be a fast-moving storm and the worst impacts will be felt in a shorter duration compared to Hurricane Laura. This will also be making landfall as a borderline category 2/3 hurricane and not a strengthening Category 4 hurricane. That said, most structures in Southwest Louisiana has some sort of damage and are not safe to be in to ride out a category two hurricane. Heed the advice of the local officials and evacuate if you feel unsafe but do so now if you plan to leave. Winds will rapidly increase Friday morning and it will become unsafe to be traveling quickly after sunrise. Cameron Parish will feel impacts earlier and everyone needs to be out well before sunrise!
Conditions will begin to deteriorate rather quickly after sunrise on Friday, so do not wait until Friday if you plan to leave. The entire area will likely be without power again, so use that as decision maker if you do plan to stay and be prepared to be without emergency services in the event you need them as the storm moves through. For those of you staying please make a plan NOW! Find the smallest most interior room in your home; usually a bathroom, closet, or hallway. Place a mattress or heavy blanket in there to cover yourself should debris fall. You will also want to take your phone charger and keep it changed as much as possible; you may also want to take some water or snacks just in case. Finally take a hammer, or crowbar so you will have a way to dig your way out should that become necessary!
Below you will find impacts for each parish here in SWLA:
First Alert Meteorologist Ben Terry, Jacob Durham and Chief Meteorologist Wade Hampton