Warnings to storm-battered Northwest Florida residents increased Tuesday morning as Hurricane Delta grew into a major storm system and its wide forecast path put potential landfall this weekend anywhere between eastern Texas and Pensacola.
Gov. Ron DeSantis advised residents to keep an eye on the system, while expressing hope the system’s track remains west of the state.
“It's been moving further west. And so, if that track holds, then you'd probably see modest impacts in places like Pensacola. But, as we saw just a few weeks ago with (Hurricane) Sally, there was wobbles to the east,” DeSantis said while in The Villages for a news conference on coronavirus testing. “And so, just keep an eye on it. Listen to your folks on the local level and heed instructions. We think it's going to be a really significant hurricane. But it looks like it's even tracking west of New Orleans. But we'll see, I think, in the next 24 hours.”
Hurricane Sally, which made landfall last month in Alabama, caused heavy flooding and other damage in the western Panhandle. With Hurricane Delta looming, the Florida Division of Emergency Management advised Northwest Florida residents to have disaster supply kids stocked.
“#Delta continues to strengthen & is now a Category 4 hurricane,” the division said in a tweet Tuesday morning. “Northwest Florida remains in the cone & storm impacts are possible in the area as early as Friday night.”
The National Hurricane Center said Delta, the 25th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season, was about 320 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, traveling west-northwest at 16 mph with 130 mph sustained winds, a Category 4 system. The system may slow a little after making landfall in Mexico and then facie cooler shelf waters near the northern Gulf coast.
“Delta is still expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it nears the northern Gulf coast,” the hurricane center said. Also, the center pointed to an “increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds, especially along the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, beginning on Friday.”
Tropical storm-force winds are expected as far east as Tallahassee under the current track.
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