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LIVE TRACK, MODELS, MORE: Florida now in the cone for Hurricane Delta

Delta expected to strengthen into Category 3 hurricane

ORLANDO, Fla.Hurricane Delta formed Monday evening near Jamaica and now the latest track shows a portion of Florida’s Panhandle in the storm’s cone.

As of Monday at 11 p.m., Delta was 170 miles south-southwest of Negril, Jamaica, and was heading west at 7 mph.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 80 mph with stronger gusts and was quickly gaining strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Delta was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane during NHC’s 8 p.m. advisory.

Forecasters said Delta is expected to continue intensifying as the center of the storm passes southwest of the Cayman Islands early Tuesday and approaches the northeastern portion of the Yucatan peninsula and the Yucatan Channel Tuesday afternoon or evening.

“Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 80 mph (130 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional rapid strengthening is expected during the next day or so, and Delta is expected to be a major hurricane when it nears the Yucatan Peninsula,” forecasters wrote in their latest advisory.

Delta is forecast to move into the southern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night or early Wednesday, and be over the south-central Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday and Wednesday night.

As of now, Delta is forecast to temporarily become a Category 3 hurricane before being downgraded again and making landfall anywhere from New Orleans to the Florida Panhandle as a Category 2 storm.

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Meanwhile, Gamma, which stalled just north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as a tropical storm on Monday, lashed the resort-studded coast with near-hurricane force winds and drenched the states of Tabasco and Chiapas with a deluge that killed at least six people and forced thousands from their homes before being downgraded to a tropical depression.

Mexico’s civil defense agency said in a statement that four of the deaths blamed on Gamma, including two children, were in Chiapas, where a landslide on a mountainous slope buried their home. The other two deaths were in Tabasco state, where one person was dragged away by the water and another drowned.

Gamma, along with cold fronts, combined over the weekend to cause extreme rains in parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas, affecting more than half a million people. The hardest-hit state was Tabasco, where more than 3,400 were evacuated to shelters.

The storm came ashore Saturday near Tulum with maximum sustained winds of nearly 70 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Thousands of tourists were affected in a resort area that only recently reopened after a pandemic shutdown: The state’s tourism department reported Friday on Twitter that more than 41,000 tourists were present in Quintana Roo, with hotels in Cancun and Cozumel already at more than 30% occupancy.

According to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Gamma was about 85 miles east northeast of Progreso, Mexico and was moving southwest at 6 mph with 35-mph winds.

The system is expected to continue falling apart over the next couple of days, according to the NHC.

“The post-tropical cyclone is moving toward the southwest near 6 mph (9 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue for the next day or so. The post-tropical cyclone is currently centered along the northern coast of the Yucatan peninsula and will move inland through Monday,” the latest advisory read.

Government officials in Mexico canceled the tropical warning and tropical storm watch along the northern coast of the Yucatan peninsula Monday afternoon, according to the NHC. No other watches or warnings were in effect in connection with the storm.

[VIDEO BELOW: News 6 meteorologist tracks the tropics]

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