CANCUN – Hurricane Delta emerged into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday and headed toward Louisiana after making landfall just south of the Mexican resort of Cancun, toppling trees and cutting power to residents of the Yucatan peninsula's resort-studded coast.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Delta weakened to a Category 1 storm during the afternoon, but it began strengthening again while moving over the southern Gulf, rising to maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph) Wednesday night. It was expected to gain even more strengthen before reaching the U.S. Gulf coast.
Delta could make landfall, possibly as a Category 3 storm, sometime Friday south of Morgan City, La., the forecast said. On Wednesday evening, the storm was centered about 525 miles (845 kilometers) south-southeast of Cameron, La., and heading west-northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).
The hurricane came ashore in Mexico around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday with top winds of 110 mph (175 kph). Officials said it caused no deaths or injuries, but did force hundreds of tourists to take refuge in storm shelters. It knocked out power to about 266,000 customers, or about one-third of the total on the Yucatan peninsula.
There were no reports of any deaths or injuries, said Carlos Joaquín González, the governor of the state of Quintana Roo.
“Fortunately, the most dangerous part of the hurricane has passed,” Joaquín González said, noting the big problem was downed trees that had knocked out power lines and blocked roadways.
Civil defense official Luís Alberto Ortega Vázquez said that as the storm approached about 39,000 people were evacuated in the states of Quintana Roo and Yucatan. He said about 2,700 people took refuge in storm shelters in the two states.
Joaquín González said Wednesday that most of the tourists had returned to their hotels but a shelter had been opened to accommodate people stranded in Cancun by the cancellation of 157 airline flights. He said the international airport would resume its normal operations Thursday.