NBC News- Hurricane Delta, a powerful Category 2 storm, is forecast to make landfall Friday afternoon or evening near Lake Charles, Louisiana, just six weeks after Hurricane Laura battered the same area.
Delta was packing maximum sustained winds of 110 mph Friday afternoon, slightly weaker than it was in the morning. As of 1 p.m. CT, Delta was downgraded to a Category 2 storm as it went through the Gulf of Mexico toward the U.S. mainland.
It is expected to move ashore later in the day, bringing a life-threatening storm surge of up to 11 feet in some areas.
Powerful waves driven by the storm were already hitting the shore southwest of Houston on Friday morning, as shown in a video of San Luis Pass uploaded by Twitter user @dynamogal. "The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline," the National Hurricane Center said.
Six million people from Louisiana to Mississippi and western Tennessee were under flash flood watches Friday morning. It's the sixth time this season that people in Louisiana have braced for a hurricane. As of 1 p.m. CT Friday, Delta was moving toward southwestern Louisiana around Lake Charles, just 14 miles east of where Hurricane Laura struck in late August.
If Delta were to restrengthen and hit the exact location as Laura as a Category 3, it would be the first time a major hurricane has hit the same place twice in one season. Regardless of Delta's final path, it's unusual for two major storms to hit the same area so near in time.
A major hurricane is Category 3 or higher.
Lake Charles is in the heart of a part of the state known as Cajun country, a historically French-influenced area. Local residents told NBC News people there are weary of powerful hurricanes this season.
"Emotionally, I think everybody is just battered and worn down right now," one Louisiana resident told NBC News.
Hurricane Laura ripped roofs off many homes and cut trailers in half. About 20 percent of homes in that area still have blue tarps as temporary roofs after that storm.
In a video posted to Facebook on Thursday, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter urged residents to heed evacuation warnings. "With what we have been through with Laura, looking at Hurricane Delta really is a scary proposition for Lake Charles, so I cannot encourage people enough to evacuate the city," Hunter said.
Strong waves and high winds from Delta had already begun along the coast Friday morning, and forecasters expect these to intensify throughout the day and into the evening.
By afternoon, the storm's strongest winds — the wall around the core of the cyclone — is forecast to move ashore with wind gusts of up to 90 mph.