Hurricane Delta made landfall Wednesday morning roughly halfway between the Mexican resort towns of Cancun and Playa del Carmen in the town of Puerto Morelos, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Delta has winds of 110 mph, making it a strong Category 2 storm. The hurricane will quickly make its way over the Yucatan Peninsula Wednesday morning and re-emerge in the Gulf of Mexico later today.
Once back over open water, Delta will likely strengthen back into a major hurricane before turning north toward the Louisiana coast. Hurricane watches and storm surge watches will likely be issued later Wednesday along the US Gulf Coast.
The hurricane is expected to bringing dangerous storm surge of 8 to 12 feet to the Yucatan.
People across the peninsula prepared for the storm Tuesday by buying supplies at grocery stories, boarding up buildings with plywood and lining up to fill large jugs with water, video from CNN affiliate TV Azteca showed.
Dozens of tourists who were evacuated from their hotels wore masks and sat chatting while they awaited transport. Others were shown waiting for flights out of the area, with many canceled or delayed due to the storm.
Six hurricanes have hit within 50 miles of Cancun in the past 100 years. Hurricane Gilbert hit in 1988 with 160 mph winds, and Hurricane Wilma decimated the area in 2005 with winds of 130-140 mph. Hurricane Emily also hit the peninsula in 2005.
Delta's wind speed tripled in the span of about 30 hours -- growing from a tropical depression with winds of 35 mph Monday morning to a Category 4 storm with winds of 145 mph before weakening. Maximum sustained winds increased by 85 mph in 24 hours -- the most in one day so far this year.
After it crosses the Yucatan Peninsula, Delta will hit the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters say that will allow Delta to strengthen from a Category 2 to a Category 3 as it approaches the US Gulf Coast.