ORLANDO, Fla. - Hurricane Delta weakened to a tropical storm overnight, but the system still packs high wind gusts and threatens heavy rains across portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday.
As of Saturday morning, Tropical Storm Delta was about 45 miles south-southeast of Monroe, Louisiana, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, the NHC said in its latest advisory.
Delta is moving north-northeast at 16 mph, and is expected to move across northern Mississippi and into the Tennessee Valley late Saturday and into Sunday, the NHC said.
About 780,000 homes and businesses were without power in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi by about 9 a.m. Saturday, according to the tracking website PowerOutage.us.
Delta made landfall Friday evening near Creola, Louisiana, as a Category 2 storm with 100 mph winds. EDT. It slammed into the southwestern part of the state, bringing life-threatening storm surge among other dangers to a state already bruised by two storms this season.
Delta's landfall was historic - it's the first Greek alphabet-named hurricane named to make landfall in the continental U.S., according to Colorado State University meteorologist and researcher Phil Klotzbach.
Nic Hunter, mayor of Lake Charles, Louisiana, told the Associated Press that tarps were flying off homes across the city, and piles of wreckage were being blown around, some of it floating in the surge of ocean water.
Delta lost some strength before making landfall due to less oceanic heat and more vertical wind shear, according to the NHC. An hour after landfall, the storm weakened into a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds.
The NHC first tweeted at 1:56 a.m. EDT that Delta had downgraded to a tropical storm. Forecasters expect Delta to further weaken to a tropical depression later Saturday.
"Additional weakening is forecast, and Delta is expected to become a tropical depression later today," the latest advisory reads.