Delta weakens to tropical depression with heavy rain, high gusts over western Mississippi

After weakening to a tropical storm overnight, Delta dwindled to a tropical depression as it…

After weakening to a tropical storm overnight, Delta dwindled to a tropical depression as it continued pushing inland past Louisiana and into western Mississippi on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center.

Though Delta is expected to quickly dissolve into a remnant low, it continues to produce heavy rainfall and strong wind gusts in parts of the southeast.

As of 11 a.m. EDT, Tropical Depression Delta was about 105 miles north-northwest of Jackson, Miss., with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, the NHC said in its final advisory on the system.

About 743,000 homes and businesses were without power across Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi on Saturday morning, according to PowerOutage.us.

Delta continues heading north-northeast at 16 mph, and will move across western and northern Mississippi and into the Tennessee Valley Saturday night and into Sunday, the NHC said.

Tropical-storm-force wind gusts “are possible this afternoon over portions of northern Mississippi and southeastern Arkansas,” NHC senior hurricane specialist Jack Beven said.

A 43 mph wind gust was reportedly registered in Greenwood, Miss., and an automated station near Monticello, Ark., recently reported a wind gust of 41 mph.

Delta first made landfall Friday evening near Creola, La. as a Category 2 storm with 100 mph winds around 7 p.m. EDT. It slammed into the southwestern part of the state, bringing life-threatening storm surge among other dangers to a state already bruised by two storms this season.

Delta’s landfall was historic — it’s the first Greek alphabet-named hurricane named to make landfall in the continental U.S., according to Colorado State University meteorologist and researcher Phil Klotzbach.

Delta lost some strength before making landfall due to less oceanic heat and more vertical wind shear, according to the NHC. An hour after landfall, the storm weakened into a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds.

Delta downgraded to a tropical storm at about 2 a.m. EDT Saturday. Forecasters expect Delta to continue to weaken into remnants of its former shape.

“Additional weakening is expected, and Delta is expected to decay to a remnant low pressure area on Sunday,” the latest advisory reads.

Forecasters expect Delta to produce 2 to 5 additional inches of rain, with potential of up to 10 inches, for northern Louisiana, southeast Arkansas, and western Mississippi, the NHC said, threatening flash and urban flooding. Through the weekend, the Tennessee Valley can expect 1 to 3 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts, as Delta’s remnants move further inland.

A few tornadoes are possible across parts of Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, and western Georgia through early tonight, the NHC said.

A band of Delta is covering parts of the Florida Panhandle as the storm pushes further inland, with significant winds, some rain and a risk of isolated tornadoes, Hudson said.

Additional updates on Delta will be issued by the Weather Prediction Center starting at 5 p.m. EDT.

While Louisiana was impacted by two storms making landfall this year, this is the sixth time the Pelican State has been threatened by tropical systems striking the Gulf Coast.

Before Delta, residents of the Pelican State were still recovering from the damages brought on by Category 4 Hurricane Laura in August, which brought winds of 150 mph, destruction to the southwestern region and was blamed for more than 30 deaths. Louisiana was also hit by Tropical Storm Cristobal in June.

According to the Associated Press, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards noted in a radio show that Delta appeared to be headed for the area near the Texas state line that was devastated by Laura, including Lake Charles and surrounding Calcasieu Parish, and rural Cameron Parish on the coast. “And we’ve got people who are very tired,” he said.

Reminders of Laura’s danger are everywhere in the region. In nearby Bell City, some debris piles are more than 6 feet (2 meters) high and 75 feet (23 meters) long. Concerns mounted Friday that Delta’s arrival would cause the debris to become airborne, deadly projectiles.

Delta previously cut through the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 2 storm Wednesday, bringing fear to the area as it quickly became a Category 4 hurricane, the third major hurricane of the season, with winds of 130 mph before degenerating. No deaths or injuries were reported.

Further east, a tropical wave over the central tropical Atlantic is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms.

The wave is expected to continue moving westward between 15 to 20 mph. Environmental conditions could be conducive for gradual development over the weekend.

The wave has a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression or tropical storm within the next two days and a 20% chance in the next five.

However, as it continues west, the wave is forecast to encounter unfavorable upper-level winds that should stymie it from further growth.

If it becomes a tropical storm, it will be the 26th named storm of the season and receive the name Epsilon.

This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Sentinel staff writers Joe Mario Pedersen, Dave Harris and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paola Pérez can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @pdesiperez.

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