Hurricane Delta slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast with a deadly storm surge and violent winds, threatening to batter an area of Louisiana still recovering from Hurricane Laura.
Delta made landfall at 6 p.m. local time in a rural, marshy stretch west of New Orleans, packing winds of 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour. It was the record 10th tropical storm or hurricane to hit the U.S. this year.
The storm is the latest in a string of natural disasters in the U.S. as climate change fuels extreme weather. In California, wildfires have burned an unprecedented 4 million acres. The Atlantic, meanwhile, has spawned 25 storms this year, the second most after 2005. So many have formed that the hurricane center has used up all the names on its official list and has resorted to the Greek alphabet to designate storms.
Delta is weaker than the ferocious blast that Laura unleashed. But it brings flooding and a storm surge that could reach as high as 11 feet in some places.
The hurricane comes ashore near Creole, Louisiana, along with a stretch of coastline that’s still in ruins after Laura roared through in late August. Delta shut about 92% of oil production and 62% of gas output as it crossed the Gulf Friday. The storm will probably cause about $2 billion in losses and destruction to Louisiana, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research. The estimate would ordinarily be $5 billion, Watson said but has been lowered because the area was struck by Laura six weeks ago.
Total Port Arthur Shuts Units, Runs at Minimum Ahead of StormHouston Ship Channel Closed Since Thursday, 35 Ships WaitingMagellan Suspends Operations at Gibson Terminal Ahead of DeltaDouble Hurricane Strikes Stem From Mix of Geography, Bad LuckOil Heads for Best Week Since June With Hurricane Battering Gulf
Delta Approaches Southwestern Louisiana Coast (5 p.m.)
Delta was moving northeast at about 14 mph and should make landfall on the southwestern Louisiana coast Friday evening, according to the hurricane center. The storm will then move across central and northeastern Louisiana tonight and Saturday morning.
Delta is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm after landfall Friday night and to a tropical depression on Saturday.
The Houston Ship Channel suspended operations late Thursday as weather conditions began to deteriorate hundreds of miles away from Delta’s eye.
The channel snaking through Houston’s industrial eastern suburbs is one of the most significant waterways in North America, connecting oil shippers, refiners, chemical manufacturers, and grain exporters to the rest of the world.
The channel is “closed to all traffic due to high winds and seas,” Moran Shipping Agencies Inc. said in a notice on its website.
Magellan Midstream said it suspended operations at its crude oil terminal in Gibson, Louisiana, in preparation for the incoming storm.
The Gibson facility has about 100,000 barrels of total storage, spokesman Bruce Heine said in an email. All pipelines are currently operating normally.
Double Hurricane Strikes Stem From Mix of Geography, Bad Luck (3:07 p.m.)
Cameron, Louisiana, is facing an unusual hurricane double strike, with Delta bearing down on a town that’s still recovering from Laura, which devastated the region just six weeks ago.
It might seem like that part of western Louisiana is just the victim of bad luck, considering that government weather data shows that it shouldn’t see another hurricane for 14 years. In fact, it’s happened before.
Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 both blew through Sebastian, a small town on Florida’s east coast. The next year, southwest Florida was pummeled by Katrina and Wilma. And back in 1964, the southeast part of the state faced Cleo and Isbell within seven weeks.
Part of the reason is geography. Hurricanes don’t move under their own power — they require larger weather patterns to shove them along. In the Atlantic, an atmospheric phenomenon known as the Bermuda high drags storms across the ocean and then can give them a northward push, so they smack into Florida or the Carolinas, which jut out into the ocean.
Delta Weakens Bearing Down on Louisiana Coast (2 p.m.)
Delta dropped to a Category 2 storm from a Category 3 as it approached the southwest Louisiana coast, the hurricane center said.
“On the forecast track, the center of Delta should make landfall along the coast of southwestern Louisiana during the next several hours, and then move across central and northeastern Louisiana tonight and Saturday morning,” the center said.
Total’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery shut several units and cut back operations to a minimum to prepare for Delta’s landfall later Friday on the northern Gulf Coast, a person familiar with operations said.
The refinery had been raising rates earlier this week after restarting following its shutdown in late August for Laura.
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