Hurricane Delta: The Breakdown


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Updated 144d ago

Hurricane Delta was officially classified as the 25th named storm of the season when it spun into existence earlier this month, tying this year with 2005 as the busiest North Atlantic hurricane season of all time. So many storms in fact, that the conventional naming method blitzed through the alphabet's worth of names and we're on to Greek names instead. This means, one more storm, and we're on to a record breaking year.

While Delta was impressive on the charts, it was an odd one for surfers. Quick, sharp pulses within the panhandle meant being in the right place at exactly the right time was paramount, or Delta would be on its merry way. That's not uncommon given hurricane forecasts. But now Delta's scuttled off into hurricane heaven, let's breakdown what actually happened here.

"Hurricane Delta started life as a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea north of Caracas around October 1 2020," says MSW forecaster Tony Butt. "It initially moved west-northwest, passing just south of Jamaica on the 5th and began to strengthen at an increasing rate. It then turned towards the west-southwest and became a tropical storm; turned back towards the west-northwest and continued to intensify, this time extremely rapidly.

"By the 6th – within 28 hours after first becoming a tropical storm – it had increased to major hurricane status at Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale (Category 3 and above is a major hurricane). It then accelerated and headed towards the Yucatán Peninsula. A slight increase in vertical wind shear caused it to weaken to Category 2 on October 7, just before it made landfall near Puerto Morales, Mexico, with winds of around 110mph.

Nolan Blanchard at Pensacola Beach.

Nolan Blanchard at Pensacola Beach.

© 2021 - Alex Dantin.

"After passing across the Yucatán Peninsula, Delta re-emerged into the Gulf of Mexico. It was initially weaker after crossing land, but then quickly intensified, fuelled by high sea-surface temperatures and a vertically-stable atmosphere. On the 8th it once again became a major hurricane at Category 3, expanded in size and began to arc around towards the right. On 9th it headed north and then northeast, eventually moving into an area of lower sea temperatures and greater shear. This caused it to weaken; but not before winds peaked at around 120 mph.

Delta's path.

Delta's path.

"Late on the 9th, Delta made landfall for a second time at Creole in Louisiana, weighing in as a Category-2 hurricane with winds of up to 100 mph. It caused utter chaos, including a large storm surge and severe flooding. Finally, as it travelled inland, it continued to arc around towards the east, steadily weakening and eventually fizzling out by about two days later."

And that's the end of Delta. Now, we wait the 26th named storm to spin into existence. The long range charts aren't looking too promising (see HERE) but the North Atlantic has an uncanny way of delivering. We'll keep you posted.

Cover shot by Waterworkmedia