Hurricane Delta weakened after making landfall in a corner of the US state of Louisiana, packing maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Delta, now a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, hit land at 6pm local time on 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.
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.
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.