Hurricane Delta weakened after making landfall in a corner of Louisiana state repeatedly battered by storms this year, packing maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Delta, now a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, hit land at 6 p.m. Friday near the Gulf Coast town of Creole, the NHC said.
On the forecast track, the center of Delta should move across central and northeastern Louisiana on Friday night and Saturday morning before moving into northern Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley, the NHC said.
“Rapid weakening is expected overnight and Saturday. Delta is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm tonight and to a tropical depression on Saturday,” the NHC said.
In nearby Lake Charles city, the streets were deserted as residents fled, filling hotels or taking shelter away from the storm’s path.
“In this community, there are a lot of homes that were damaged and so a lot of people are concerned about staying in that structure again,” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said in an interview.
Hurricane Laura, which struck the state with 150 mph winds in late August, “is still very fresh and very raw and I think that had something to do with more people evacuating for Delta,” Hunter said.
Schools and government offices were closed and officials in a dozen parishes called for evacuations. Residents boarded up windows, sandbagged doors and moved out of the storm’s path.
SETS STORM RECORD
Delta is the 10th named storm to make a U.S. landfall this year, eclipsing a record that has stood since 1916.
Laura damaged tens of thousands of homes, leaving roofs throughout the region dotted with protective blue tarps and more than 6,000 people still living temporarily in hotels.
Floria Semien, 62, and her family took shelter in a hotel after leaving their home near Lake Charles two days after its electric power was restored after Laura.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “My family made it out OK so we just are going to put one foot in front of the other.”
Along a pasture east of Lake Charles, Addison Alford manned a mobile weather radar station brought in from Oklahoma on Thursday because the permanent station was damaged during Laura.
He and a colleague planned to ride out the storm from inside a heavy vehicle equipped with a radar dish. “We’re really trying to make sure the data streams stay up during the entire event,” he said.
Energy companies have shut 1.7 million barrels per day, or 92%, of the Gulf’s oil output as of midday Friday, the most since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 100 offshore platforms and hobbled output for months.
The U.S. Coast Guard closed ports from Beaumont, Texas, to Lake Charles ahead of the storm.