Delta isn't projected to be a Category 4 hurricane when it makes landfall in the U.S., but Kottlowski said that's not the thing to keep in mind.
"The category has no meaning to the impacts," he said. "What happens with a storm like this is it creates a large wind field. It already will have an increase in water ahead of it and all that will create a really dangerous storm surge along the coast. So just because it drops a category from one to the other is really not going to make any difference in the impact."
This has been a busy hurricane season with nine named storms making landfall in the U.S., which ties the record number established in 1916. Beta became the first storm named after a letter of the Greek alphabet to make landfall in the continental U.S. when it came ashore near Port O'Connor, Texas on Sept. 21.
The Gulf Coast was hit twice in September. In addition, to Beta, Hurricane Sally made landfall on Sept. 16 near Gulf Shores, Ala.
In late August, the region was pummeled in a 72-hour period by Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Marco. Laura came ashore in coastal Louisiana at Category 4 strength. Marco, which had briefly been a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, made landfall as a tropical storm near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Hurricane Hanna made landfall in southern Texas in late July. And Tropical Storm Cristobal made a second landfall on the Louisiana coast on June 7.
"For some areas they're still picking up the pieces after Laura, they're still picking up the pieces after Sally," said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center. "We've been through it in Florida where we have multiple storms in the same year so we know what that's like here and it can be a very difficult situation."
October storms often threaten Florida as they move north and then northeastward. None of the nine storms that hit the continental U.S. this year made landfall in Florida.
"Storms don't move by themselves, they move by the pattern that is set up at the time," Feltgen said. "We've been in this pattern where we get a number of these systems that have been moving through the Caribbean and then they're gonna start gaining some latitude as they get into the western Caribbean and that puts them in the Gulf of Mexico. And once you've got a storm in the Gulf of Mexico, it's very rare for them to get out of the Gulf without hitting something."
Hurricane warnings were in effect Wednesday in Mexico from Tulum to Dzilam, including Cozumel and Cancun. Tropical storm warnings were in effect for parts of the Yucatan and parts of Cuba.
"This could be the strongest hurricane strike on Cancun in 15 years, since Wilma stalled over the northeast Yucatan Peninsula after becoming the strongest Atlantic Basin tropical cyclone on record, by pressure," according to The Weather Channel.
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com(c)2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.