Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday said he and Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz are monitoring Hurricane Delta as it travels through the Gulf of Mexico.
Speaking at a COVID-19 press conference in The Villages, DeSantis took a moment to urge Northwest Floridians to be mindful of the storm’s path over the next 24 to 48 hours.
“Keep an eye on it, listen to your folks on the local level and heed instructions,” DeSantis said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Hurricane Delta rapidly intensified into a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and higher gusts. Those hurricane-force winds reach outward up to 25 miles from the storm’s center, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is also expected to continue strengthening as it moves past the Yucatan peninsula throughout Wednesday.
“Delta is a small but extremely fierce hurricane, said NHC Senior Hurricane Specialist Eric Blake.
While current projections suggest Florida’s mainland is not under threat, the Panhandle’s westernmost counties remain within the storm’s cone.
“If that track holds, you’ll probably see modest impacts to places like Pensacola,” DeSantis added.
For now, Delta’s most immediate threat is toward Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, where it is forecast to make landfall on Friday or Saturday.
Hurricane Delta comes on the heels of Hurricane Sally, which made landfall along the Florida/Alabama border on Sept. 16.
The Category 2 storm poured nearly 30 inches of rain and caused dramatic flooding across portions of the Florida Panhandle.
In all, the flooding caused almost 100% crop loss and impacted 100,000 acres of peanuts, cotton and hay; 10,000 acres of corn; and 4,000 acres of horse farms.
“I know you are sick of hurricanes since you have been in so, so many cones this year,” Blake told Gulf Coast residents last week. “Hurricane fatigue is real. But you need to take this one seriously with almost everything showing a hurricane on the northern Gulf coast late week.”
Delta is the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.