ORLANDO, Fla. — 8 p.m. update:
NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft found Tropical Storm Delta has strengthened into a hurricane Monday night.
Hurricane Delta has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and is moving west northwest at around 8 mph.
Delta is now the 9th hurricane of the Atlantic season.
It is forecast to still headed for a landfall on Friday along the central Gulf coast.
Tropical Storm Delta was rapidly gaining strength Monday afternoon, nearing hurricane status.
The system is forecast to become a major hurricane by Tuesday evening, with the track shifting farther west.
A hurricane warning has been issued for a portion of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Gamma on the other hand has weakened from a tropical storm to a tropical depression.
Tropical Storm warnings are in effect for the Cayman Islands.
Sea surface temperatures are very warm and wind shear is very weak over the western Caribbean. Forecasts call for Delta to strengthen into a hurricane as it moves over the western Caribbean. It is very likely this storm will strengthen rapidly on Tuesday.
Hurricane watches are in effect for western Cuba, including the southern Isle of Youth.
Most models call for Delta to strengthen into a category 2 hurricane by Wednesday over the Central Gulf of Mexico.
The tropical system is being guided by the strong Bermuda High, the high-pressure system over the northern Atlantic, which is also ‘protecting’ Florida and holding this storm from shifting to the northeast.
We do not expect a direct hit to the peninsular area of Florida, but northern Florida should monitor this storm. As of Monday morning, northwestern Florida is inside the cone of uncertainty.
There is high confidence in the track of this system to impact anywhere between central Louisiana to northern Florida, and the area will likely shrink in the coming days as the confidence grows further.
COULD DELTA AFFECT CENTRAL FLORIDA?
There are no direct impacts to Central Florida expected from this system. Delta will remain far enough west of Florida to not bring a threat for severe weather directly associated with this system. But we will have an influx of tropical moisture, which will keep enhanced shower and storm activity across our area.
Also, along with the mugginess, the temperatures will be very warm this week, which will make the heat indices feel as if they were in the mid to upper-90s. Keep this in mind if you are doing any work outdoors.
The west coast of Florida will have dangerous conditions. There could be a threat of large waves and a high risk for rip currents.
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