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Déjà vu: Still recovering from Laura, Louisiana braces for Delta landfall near same spot

As Louisiana still reels from Hurricane Laura, Delta is forecast to make landfall within miles of the same location.

Louisiana is experiencing a major case of déjà vu as Hurricane Delta creeps toward the U.S Gulf Coast to nearly the same spot where Hurricane Laura made landfall just six weeks ago. 

Coastal Louisiana has not yet recovered from Laura, which caused over $14 billion in damage and killed at least 26 people.  

Hurricane Delta forecast to follow path of Laura
Hurricane Delta forecast to follow path of Laura
Nate Chute, USA Today Network

After Laura blew through southwestern Louisiana, the area also experienced strong winds from Hurricane Sally and heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Beta

"So unfortunate and heartbreaking that the area of Louisiana that was hit so hard by Hurricane Laura is now threatened by this hurricane," Dr. Rick Knabb told the USA TODAY Network on Thursday. Knabb is a former National Hurricane Center director and the a hurricane expert at The Weather Channel. 

Live updates: Latest on Hurricane Delta's projected path to Louisiana landfall

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Comparing Laura and Delta: Strength, storm surge, winds

There are few similarities between the two storms in path, strength and landfall. Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 with winds of 150 mph near Cameron, Louisiana. Hurricane Delta is forecast to make landfall as a major Category 3 storm with winds of 105 mph within 15 miles of Laura's arrival spot. 

Delta is not going to be as strong as Laura when it moves inland, Knabb said, but it will be comparable in size.

Laura brought a record 17 feet of storm surge in parts of Louisiana; Delta is forecast to cause up to 11 feet this weekend.

"Anything above about 3 feet of storm surge is going to prompt the storm surge warnings that you see," Knabb said. "So evacuate, evacuate, evacuate. That's the only way to ensure safety from storm surge."

Despite these similarities, Delta is not going to behave exactly like Laura, Knabb said.

"Every hurricane is different," he said. "And you know, for some people, this could end up bringing wind or water that's worse than in Laura. Depending on the exact track and structure of the system." 

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The two storms formed on opposite ends of the Atlantic Ocean — Laura formed from a wave off the coast of Africa while Delta formed in the western Caribbean — and managed to find a common meeting place off the Louisiana coast. This is not the first time in history this has happened.

In Louisiana, Harvey and Cindy in 2017 and Katrina and Cindy in 2005 came within miles of each other. 

Weather Channel expert meteorologist Dr. Rick Knabb weighs in

Knabb emphasizes the need to prepare for Hurricane Delta because of the threatening winds and storm surge it is likely to produce. 

"People should be taking this one just as seriously as they did Laura," Knabb said. "You don't want to fail to prepare for this one because you perceive that it's not as dangerous, because it is still a very life-threatening situation." 

Delta is not just going to be a coastal event, Knabb said. Strong winds, flooding rains and severe tornadoes are possible as the storm moves inland.

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Using Hurricane Laura as a lesson for Hurricane Delta

Knabb pointed out some key takeaways from Hurricane Laura that residents of southwest Louisiana can use to prepare for incoming Delta: 

  • Shelter like you would for a tornado: Hurricanes can bring down trees and and people can be injured or killed in their homes if they haven't taken shelter
  • Power outages: Avoid bringing generators inside because carbon monoxide poisoning causes fatalities 
  • Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate: Just because the storm surge might not be as high as it was for Laura, listen to local officials. Evacuating is the only way to ensure safety from storm surge
  • Blue tarps don't protect from everything: Find shelter with a friend or in the community to shelter from the wind; some houses aren't equipped to withstand strong winds

"It's really heartbreaking to see. I feel so sorry for the people in southwest Louisiana who have to go through this again," Knabb said. "But we got to focus on being safe during this storm and its aftermath."

Daniella Medina is a digital producer for the USA TODAY Network. You can reach her at dmedina@gannett.com or on Twitter @danimedinanews.