(Bloomberg) — Hurricane Delta is poised to menace Louisiana after barreling across Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where it knocked out power and slammed the resort areas of Cancun and Cozumel with strong winds and a dangerous storm surge.
Delta threatens to become the latest in a string of deadly natural disasters in 2020, a year that has been marked by a hyperactive hurricane season, devastating wildfires and a derecho that wreaked havoc across the U.S. Midwest. They’re further evidence that the Earth’s climate is changing, bringing hotter temperatures, stronger storms and more widespread destruction.
Delta will churn through the energy-producing region of the Gulf before likely pummeling Louisiana, which has been struck twice already this year, on Friday. Though Delta has weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, it’s expected to strengthen before coming ashore again.
It will be the record 10th tropical storm or hurricane to hit the U.S. in a year. The Atlantic has spawned 25 storms this year, the second most after 2005, when deadly Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans. So many have formed that the hurricane center has used up all the names on its official list and has resorted to the Greek alphabet to designate systems.
Delta’s loss in power has cut damage estimates for the resort areas of Cancun and Cozumel, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research. The storm will likely cause about $4 billion in losses and destruction to the region and $3 billion in Louisiana, he said.
Delta will likely make landfall between Lake Charles and Lafayette, Louisiana, said Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist for the Weather Company, an IBM business. That would be just east of where Hurricane Laura came ashore in August as the strongest storm to hit that area since 1856.
All time stamps are Eastern Standard.
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Louisiana Approved for Federal Emergency Declaration (11:45 p.m.)
President Donald Trump has approved Louisiana’s request for federal emergency declaration in advance of Hurricane Delta, according to Governor John Bel Edwards. The hurricane is forecast to make landfall along its coast on Friday.
“We have been working with our federal and local partners to prepare for and quickly respond to this hurricane, even as we continue to recover from Hurricane Laura and manage the COVID-19 public health emergency,” he said in a statement.
An emergency declaration authorizes FEMA public assistance, which is generally for government entities, to support Louisiana’s response to Delta.
Hurricane expected to grow (11 p.m.)
Delta expected to grow in size as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast, where life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are likely beginning Friday, particularly for portions of the Louisiana coast, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
Noble Corp. Suspends Drillships (9:30 p.m.)
Noble Corp. suspended operations on two drillships working in the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Delta approaches, Craig Muirhead, vice president for investor relations, said by email.
Delta Strengthens Over Gulf (8 p.m.)
Delta strengthened slightly but remained a Category 1 hurricane with top winds of 90 miles (150 kilometers) per hour in the south-central Gulf, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
Hurricane watches extend from High Island, Texas, just east of Houston, to Grand Isle, Louisiana, south of New Orleans. Some areas along the Louisiana coast could receive storm surge up to 11 feet, the center said.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he’s been briefed on Delta and spoke with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Kinder Gas Pipeline Declares Force Majeure (3:57 p.m.)
Based on the projected path of Delta, Kinder Morgan has declared a force majeure event along the Louisiana Line of the Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America system. The company said a severe storm surge is anticipated along the pipeline’s route in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.
Various locations along the pipeline system’s Louisiana line will be shut in during Delta.
Houston Pilots May Stop Accepting Arrivals (3:56 p.m.)
Houston pilots may stop accepting arrivals around 8 p.m. local time Wednesday because of Delta, according to a bulletin sent to Bloomberg from Moran Shipping. They will also likely start emptying the port “at first light tomorrow,” the bulletin showed.
Phillips 66 Delays Lake Charles Refinery Restart (2:34 p.m.)
Phillips 66 has paused the restart of its Lake Charles refinery in southwest Louisiana as Delta is on a track to make landfall in the state on Friday, the company said in statement.
The Lake Charles refinery, which has been shut since Hurricane Laura came ashore in late August, has gotten reliable electricity restored.
Phillips 66 is preparing its Alliance refinery, located along the Mississippi River 25 miles south of New Orleans, for the hurricane but no decision has been made yet on stopping maintenance activities or sending people home.
Murphy, BP Shut Gulf of Mexico Facilities (2:16 p.m.)
Murphy Oil Corp. has evacuated and shut some of its assets in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Delta, company spokeswoman Megan Larson said in an email. Larson didn’t disclose which facilities had suspended operations.
Separately, BP Plc began evacuating personnel from its platforms and assets and is beginning to shut in production, the company said on its website Tuesday.
U.S. Gulf Shuts 80% of Oil Output Before Delta (2:12 p.m.)
Gulf of Mexico operators shut 1.5 million barrels a day of oil production ahead of Delta, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a notice.
About 1.3 billion cubic feet a day, or 49%, of gas production was shut in and 180 platforms have been evacuated.
Hurricane Delta came ashore on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and is forecast to sweep across the Gulf striking the U.S. Friday.
(Updates with federal emergency declaration in Louisiana, Noble Corp.’s operations.)
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