Tropical Storm Delta is headed for the Gulf of Mexico, and that could eventually mean a wet weekend for much of Tennessee, including the northern Cumberland Plateau.
The storm — the fourth named storm of the Greek alphabet in what has been an extraordinarily busy hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean — was situated southwest of Jamaica late Monday morning, with 45 mph sustained winds and moving at 7 mph.
Delta is expected to be a hurricane by the time it reaches the western edge of Hispaniola late Tuesday, and then will begin to pick up steam as it barrels through the Gulf of Mexico, potentially reaching the coast as soon as early Friday.
The current forecast from the National Hurricane Center brings Hurricane Delta ashore along the Louisiana coast early Friday, then moves it northeast, placing it along the Mississippi-Alabama border as a tropical storm early Saturday.
By that time, rains associated with the storm will have likely reached Tennessee, if current forecasts remain on track.
Because there is quite a bit of uncertainty with the storm and its exact track, the National Weather Service is taking a conservative approach for now. On Monday, NWS-Morristown was forecasting only a 40% chance of rain with otherwise sunny skies for Oneida and Scott County.
But there’s at least a chance that the forecast will dramatically change in the days ahead. The two major global models — the GFS and the Euro — both bring significant rains associated with Hurricane Delta far north across much of Tennessee. While the two models are similar with their overall handling of the tropical storm and its remnants, the GFS is the much wetter of the two, depicting nearly five inches of rain across the northern plateau. The Euro cuts those rain totals in half, but is still quite wet, with over two inches of rain falling on Saturday.
In a forecast discussion Monday morning, meteorologists at NWS-Morristown noted that there is “potential for copious amounts of rainfall persisting through Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night. This scenario could present a flooding threat.”
NWS-Morristown is actively monitoring the potential threat for flooding.