Louisiana braces for rains, storm surge as Hurricane Delta strengthens over Gulf

By Catherine Koppel LAFAYETTE, La. (Reuters) - Louisiana steeled itself on Thursday for another in a record-breaking series of violent storms, closing flood control gates as Hurricane Delta took aim at a corner of the state still recovering from the last storm

Reuters October 09, 2020 04:10:45 IST
Louisiana braces for rains, storm surge as Hurricane Delta strengthens over Gulf

Louisiana braces for rains storm surge as Hurricane Delta strengthens over Gulf

By Catherine Koppel

LAFAYETTE, La. (Reuters) - Louisiana steeled itself on Thursday for another in a record-breaking series of violent storms, closing flood control gates as Hurricane Delta took aim at a corner of the state still recovering from the last storm.

Delta's size grew and its winds intensified over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, was packing winds of 115 miles per hour (185 kph) and was expected to strengthen on Thursday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Louisiana closed nearly half of the state's coast flood control gates by Thursday afternoon ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Delta, Governor John Bel Edwards told a news conference.

Delta is likely to make landfall on Friday in hard-hit southwest Louisiana, between the cities of Lake Charles and Lafayette, said Benjamin Schott, chief meteorologist of the National weather Service office in New Orleans.

"We've survived much worse," said Lafayette resident Rebecca Sebastian as she and two friends stopped in the city center to buy sweets. "We may have a few gusts of 100 mph winds but we've done this before."

The storm could drive a 4- to 11-foot (1.2-3.3 meters) storm surge up Vermilion Bay on the coast, the NHC said. It could also unleash tornadoes as it moves over land and drop up to 10 inches (25 cm) of rain, it said.

NEW ORLEANS NOT IN PATH

New Orleans likely will escape the storm and experience gusty winds and mild rain, said AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski, with Lafayette the largest city on the storm's eastern and more dangerous side.

On Thursday morning, Morgan City resident Lisa Mire and three friends took shelter from a light rain to pray for former colleagues facing the COVID-19 pandemic as teachers.

The storm added urgency to the group's regular get-together, she said.

"We have today to prepare ourselves and our families for the arrival of Hurricane Delta," Edwards told residents. "Let's make it count."

The state sought and received a federal emergency declaration, he said, making additional resources available.

Energy companies halted 92%, of nearly 1.7 million barrels per day of offshore oil output, and 62% of natural gas production, data showed. The U.S. Coast Guard warned shippers of impending gale force winds from Port Arthur, Texas, to New Orleans.

Southwestern Louisiana bore the brunt of Hurricane Laura's fierce winds and storm surge in August. There are about 8,000 people still living in hotel rooms as a result of the devastation to homes in the southwest of the state from by Laura, Edwards said on Wednesday.

When Delta reaches the northern Gulf Coast, it will be the 10th named storm to make a U.S. landfall this year, eclipsing a record that has held since 1916.

(Additional reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston; writing by Gary McWilliams and Bill Tarrant; Editing by Nick Zieminski, David Gregorio and Richard Pullin)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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