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Acadiana in Hurricane Delta's crosshairs, with 'biggest threat' to be wind, storm surge

Ashley White
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

As southern Louisiana prepares for Hurricane Delta, forecasters warn the storm's biggest threats could be strong winds and a high storm surge, with some coastal areas seeing 11 feet of surge.

The storm is expected to make landfall somewhere across eastern Cameron Parish and Vermillion Parish coastline as a strong Category 2 hurricane, according to Donald Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles. 

Delta made landfall Wednesday on the Yucatan Peninsula. Moving at 17 miles per hour, forecasters predict it will re-enter the Gulf of Mexico before curving north and likely make landfall on the northern Gulf Coast. 

"We're still forecasting re-intensification," Jones said. 

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The storm is expected to strengthen in the Gulf before interacting with wind shear and weakening in its last 12 hours before landfall. Despite that potential weakening, Jones warned the residual energy in the water could cause the storm surge to be equivalent to what would be associated with a stronger hurricane.  

"The biggest threat with this system is going to be the wind and it’s also the storm surge, specifically the storm surge more so than anything else," Jones said. 

The largest storm surge is expected from Pecan Island to Port Fourchon at 7 to 11 feet, Jones said. From Pecan Island across Cameron Parish, the storm surge is forecast to be 4 to 7 feet. Southeast Louisiana could see 4 to 6 feet of storm surge.

Vermilion Bay is expected to experience high storm surges. Erath is expected to get between six to nine feet of storm surge. 

"Vermilion Bay is probably going to be a bullseye region for storm surge with this system, perhaps even more so then coastal parts of Cameron Parish," Jones said. 

Hurricane Delta is expected to bring a large storm surge to the northern Gulf Coast, as seen in this Wednesday morning graphic from the National Hurricane Center.

In addition to the storm surge, southwest and south central Louisiana have an 80-90% chance of seeing tropical-storm-force winds, which are expected to arrive mid-Friday morning, Jones said. Cameron and Vermilion parishes could see 80-100 mph sustained winds and 120 mph gusts. Lafayette and Acadia parishes could see 70-90 mph sustained winds with 100 mph gusts. 

Because the storm is expected to move quickly, Hurricane Delta will likely bring 6-10 inches of rain to the area, even possibly 12 inches. 

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The largest amount of rain will likely be in Vermilion and Lafayette parishes, where forecasters predict there will be 6-10 inches of rain with the possibility of up to 15 inches of rain. Iberia, St. Martin and St. Mary parishes could see 4-6 inches, which a chance of up to 10 inches.

As Hurricane Delta's track shifts, the areas that will see the largest storm surge, strongest winds and heaviest rains will change, Jones said. 

Contact Ashley White at adwhite@theadvertiser.com or on Twitter @AshleyyDi