Hurricane Delta, which has now strengthened into a Category 3 storm, was growing more powerful and threatening to hit the US state of Louisiana on Friday, prompting mass evacuations, according to officials.
“It is very clear that Southwest Louisiana is going to get more of a punch from this than we would like to see, for sure, because we’re still trying to recover from Hurricane Laura,” CBS News quoted Governor John Bel Edwards as saying in a statement on Thursday.
He added that President Donald Trump has approved the state’s request for a federal emergency declaration.
Delta first made landfall in the Mexican Peninsula on Wednesday, where it caused some streets to collapse and knocked out power to 266,000 homes and businesses.
In its latest update, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm was crrently about 285 miles south of Cameron, Louisiana, and was moving at about 12 mph.
But it was expected to weaken as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast, according to the NHC update.
Meanwhile, the hurricane could also spawn tornadoes in New Orleans, the largest city in Louisiana, said Lauren Nash of the National Weather Service.
“Tornadoes are going to be a threat here. Tornadoes in hurricanes can form very quickly and usually will stay on the ground for only a few minutes,” Nash said on Thursday during a news conference with Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other city officials.
Delta’s latest path presents a “worst-case scenario” for Lake Charles and southwestern Louisiana, a city and region still reeling from the effects of hurricane Laura six weeks ago, USA Today reported.
“This is not a bad dream; it’s not a test run,” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said on Thursday in a Facebook post.
“These are the cards we’ve been dealt. I don’t think Lake Charles will be a safe place to be this weekend.”
Southwestern Louisiana is still recovering from hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm that pounded the area in August. Thousands of evacuees were still lodged in hotels around the state.
Delta continued the record-breaking theme of the current hurricane season, becoming the earliest storm to be named Delta.
The Greek alphabet is tapped for names after the predetermined 21 names have been used. The previous record-holding Delta storm formed on November 15, 2005.
Delta would be the 10th named storm to hit the US in a single season, also an all-time record.