Hurricane Delta is now strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico and churning toward the U.S. Gulf Coast after largely sparing Mexico.
Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana have declared states of emergency, and parts of Louisiana are under a mandatory evacuation order.
"Delta is expected to grow in size as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast, where life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are likely beginning Friday, particularly for portions of the Louisiana coast," the National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning.
Forecasters warned that the Category 2 hurricane could make landfall on Friday with winds of up to 100 mph and a storm surge of up to 11 feet. The storm first made landfall near the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico early Wednesday, causing flooding and damaging trees and windows.
Delta would be the seventh named storm and fourth hurricane forecast to hit the Gulf Coast this year, continuing an especially brutal Atlantic hurricane season that has battered the area.
In August, Hurricane Laura hit the Gulf states, causing at least six deaths and significant property damage. Most of the structures damaged by Laura haven't been repaired yet. Laura was followed by Hurricane Sally in September, which moved slowly over the Gulf states and created massive flooding and destruction.
Delta puts at risk roughly 293,685 homes with nearly $62.85 billion in reconstruction cost value, according to global property data and analytics provider CoreLogic.
"Hurricane Delta is headed for the Gulf Coast just weeks after Hurricane Laura brought significant wind and storm surge damage to the Texas and Louisiana coastlines," said Curtis McDonald, meteorologist and senior product manager of CoreLogic.
"Residents in these coastal areas are already trying to recover from their losses and are now faced with a second substantial storm," McDonald said in a statement. "This season has been relentless, and Louisianans should be prepared for the long recovery road ahead."
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned that everyone in south Louisiana prepare for Hurricane Delta and plan to be in place by Thursday evening.
"We have been working with our federal and local partners to prepare for and quickly respond to this hurricane, even as we continue to recover from Hurricane #Laura and manage the COVID-19 public health emergency," Edwards wrote in a tweet.
Climate change has caused more frequent and destructive hurricanes. This year is set to be one of the worst U.S. hurricane seasons on record. Hurricane Delta is the 25th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30.