New data on Hurricane Delta indicates both direct and indirect causes of death

Weather

This Oct. 8, 2020 photo made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Delta in the Gulf of Mexico at 12:41 p.m. EDT. Delta, gaining strength as it bears down on the U.S. Gulf Coast, is the latest and nastiest in a recent flurry of rapidly intensifying Atlantic hurricanes that scientists largely blame on global warming. (NOAA via AP)

The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season was one for the record books. Anywhere from the most named storms ever recorded, the most landfalls in a single season, to the strongest late season storm records were all shattered in 2020.

In addition to being one of the six major hurricanes of the season, Hurricane Delta, was a unique storm in that it struck just about 10 miles to the east of where Hurricane Laura struck just one month prior. Delta did weaken prior to its second landfall in Louisiana to a Category 2 storm, but even that was more than the state could handle. Louisiana would go on to be hit by a total of five storms in 2020.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) released its official report on Hurricane Delta on March 30, 2021. In their findings, Hurricane Delta was responsible for two direct and two indirect deaths in the United States.

According to the National and Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the two direct deaths reported were near Destin, Florida, where a 19-year old woman and a 49-year old man drowned in rip currents while the hurricane’s outer bands were nearby.

The two indirect deaths in Louisiana were associated with electrocutions and fires during the preparation before the storm and clean-up after Delta’s passage.

Delta’s unique passage as a Category 2 storm through an area that was recently hit by not just another Category 2 storm, but a Category 4 Hurricane Laura, caused insult to injury for the state of Louisiana. Delta caused damage to homes that were already in disarray, makeshift shelters had to temporarily move out only to come back to more people needing help, and debris that was still on the ground was blown around and caused roads and drains to be blocked.

In total, The NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) estimates that Delta caused around $2.9 billion (USD) in damage in the U.S.

This Thursday, esteemed research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University Philip Klotzbach, along with other researchers, will release their annual hurricane outlook. This time last year, this team predicted an above average Atlantic Hurricane season which did come to fruition.

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