Category 3 Delta starts lashing Louisiana and Texas as storm-weary residents brace for fierce wind and surge

Boards on business windows
Photo provided by CNN.

Hurricane Delta’s rain bands began hitting the Louisiana and Texas coasts Friday morning as storm-fatigued residents brace for predicted “life-threatening” surge, flash flooding, ferocious winds and possible tornadoes.

Delta’s center is still more than 150 miles south of Louisiana. It remains a Category 3 major hurricane with maximum sustained winds of almost 120 mph.


Winds of tropical storm force — higher than 39 mph — extend outward up to 160 miles from the center. They will be felt onshore Friday morning.

Conditions will deteriorate ahead of landfall Friday evening along the southwestern Louisiana coast. Delta will hit just east of Lake Charles in communities battered by Hurricane Laura only weeks ago, CNN meteorologist Rob Shackelford said.

“We believe that there will be hurricane force winds and storm surge in southwest Louisiana in the area of our state that is least prepared to take it,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday, urging residents to create a game plan to face the storm.

The National Hurricane Center warned of a “dangerous” storm surge that’s expected near the hurricane’s landfall and parts of Louisiana’s coastline could see up to 11 feet of water. That will be coupled with high winds and rainfall that’s likely to lead to “significant flash flooding” Friday and Saturday in parts of the state, the center said.

“While we have every intention of getting to you as quickly as possible should you need rescuing or any other assistance, you should plan as if the first 72 hours is on you,” Edwards said.

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place in communities including Cameron Parish and Calcasieu Parish, home to Lake Charles. West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital in Sulphur began evacuating patients Thursday “out of an abundance of caution” to medical centers around Baton Rouge and New Orleans, with only a core team staying on site, according to a news release.

A hurricane warning is in effect for High Island, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana, and storm surge warnings are in effect for parts of Texas to Mississippi, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Up to 10 inches of rain is expected through Saturday for parts of south and central Louisiana, with some areas forecast to see as much as 15 inches of water, Shackelford said.

‘I’m packing up to leave again’

In a last call to get residents evacuated, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Thursday afternoon that city employees would move “heaven and earth” to help anyone who wanted to leave the city ahead of the storm.

“We are getting to a moment in time eventually, where it will not be safe any more to get out on the roads,” Hunter said in a video message posted on Facebook. “Think about you and your family. And it is our strong request that you heed the advice and evacuate. ”

In Cameron, Louisiana, Leona Boullion told CNN affiliate KPRC her home was spared by Laura, but she wasn’t sure if she’d be as lucky this time around.

“I’m packing up to leave again,” Boullion told the affiliate. “I’m just hoping that I have something to come back to.”

Local leaders also warned of the possibility of tornadoes, which could come through Friday over parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, according to the hurricane center.

A tropical storm warning was in effect in parts of Texas and Louisiana, including New Orleans, where Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she was “very much concerned about” the possibility of tornadoes.

“We are not in the cone, but again, we do anticipate feeling strong impacts related to Hurricane Delta,” she said, according to CNN affiliate WDSU. “Tropical storm force winds, this is also a big concern, rainfall and possible flash flooding is what we are expecting.”

Mississippi National Guard resources on ready

In Texas, public safety officials urged residents across the coast to prepare for severe weather including strong winds and localized flooding. The state this week had prepared resources so it could be ready to respond, the governor said.

“Texans in the path of this storm should continue to heed the guidance and direction of local officials, remain cautious, and remember – Turn Around, Don’t Drown,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release.

Meanwhile, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday the state has sent out resources to help communities and will deploy National Guard resources as well if needed.

Officials there also warned of the possibility of tornadoes in the state, as well as heavy rain.

“We anticipate the storm, or at least what’s left of the eye of it will only spend about 30 hours in Mississippi,” Reeves said. “During that time, we do expect significant rainfall, up to four to six inches in the southwestern counties, and maybe in some of the western Delta counties that are on the Mississippi River.”

Abbott this week declared a state of emergency “in anticipation of damage” and urged residents to “prep for the worst.”

CDC warns of carbon monoxide poisoning

Ahead of the storm, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned doctors and clinics to keep an eye out for carbon monoxide poisoning.

People often turn on gas-powered generators, charcoal or gas grills and propane devices when the power goes out after a storm hits and these can generate carbon monoxide — an invisible, odorless and lethal gas.

“If used or placed improperly, these sources can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) build up inside buildings, garages, or campers and poison the people and animals inside,” the CDC said in a warning this week.

At least nine deaths tied to Hurricane Laura in Louisiana were from carbon monoxide poisoning, health officials said last month.

“These devices should never be used inside an enclosed space, home, basement, garage, or camper — or even outside near an open window or window air conditioner,” the CDC said.