This NOAA/GOES satellite image shows Hurricane Delta over the Caribbean Sea early on Tuesday. AFP
Tropical storm Delta strengthened into a hurricane Monday in the Caribbean, and is expected to intensify as it passes over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and into the southern United States.
Hurricane Delta was packing maximum sustained winds of 80 miles (130 kilometres) per hour as it moved southwest of Jamaica, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm was heading towards the US Gulf Coast at seven miles per hour, the Miami-based center reported.
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"Delta continues to strengthen," the NHC said. "Hurricane conditions expected Tuesday night in the northeast Yucatan Peninsula."
A hurricane watch is in effect for the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Delta is expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico early Wednesday.
The NHC predicted the storm will reach the southern United States either Thursday night or Friday morning without encountering any obstacles that could weaken it.
Delta is the 26th named storm of an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season.
In September, meteorologists were forced to break out the Greek alphabet to name Atlantic storms for only the second time ever, after the 2020 hurricane season blew through their usual list, ending on Tropical Storm Wilfred.
Meteorologist MJ Ventrice of The Weather Company tweeted that when Delta makes landfall, "it would be the 10th tropical cyclone strike of the season."
"This would break the record for most landfalling tropical cyclones in a single season," he added, noting the previous record was nine storms in 1916.
About 485 miles (780 km) south-southeast of Cameron, Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles (155 km) per hour, the hurricane will move over the central Gulf of Mexico later on Thursday.
The Category 1 storm made landfall near Tomatlan in Mexico's Jalisco state and will continue north towards the states of Nayarit and Sinaloa, the National Meteorological Service (SMN) reported.
The storm's top sustained winds decreased slightly to 170 mph (275 kph) as its westward movement slowed, crawling along Grand Bahama island early Monday at 2 mph (4 kph) in what forecasters said would be a daylong assault.
Floodwaters rose to a foot (30 cm) or more in low-lying parts of the historic South Carolina city of Charleston, where more than 7 inches (18 cm) of rain fell in some areas, officials said, with another half-inch or more expected overnight.
A number of areas in the country, on Tuesday, witnessed light to heavy rain, accompanied by lightning and thunder, because of the country being affected by a surface depression.
Drake added that Hale left a manifest and maps of the school detailing control points, entry and exit points, and was "prepared for a confrontation with law enforcement."
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