Hurricane Laura: Hurricane warning issued along the Galveston coastline

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All eyes are on Hurricane Laura, which is strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to be a Category 3 before landfall.

HOUSTON — People in Houston and all along the Gulf coast are keeping a very close eye on Hurricane Laura. The National Hurricane Center‘s latest track has it making landfall possibly as a Category 3 hurricane sometime Wednesday into Thursday along the western Louisiana coast or East Texas coastline.

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The City of Galveston has now issued a mandatory evacuation for all residents on the island, and there’s a voluntary evacuation (that could become mandatory) for residents on Bolivar Peninsula.

The National Hurricane Center said at 7:15 a.m. that Laura had officially increased from tropical storm to Category 1 hurricane status with winds at 75 mph.

But the National Hurricane Center says there is still a lot of uncertainty, so the forecast cone will continue to move as Laura moves north and strengthens over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

LATEST MODELS: View Laura spaghetti models and forecast cone updates

VIDEO: Watch Chita’s latest update

The City of Galveston on Tuesday morning issued a mandatory evacuation order for all residents.

A storm surge watch is in effect from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Borgne for areas outside of the southeast Louisiana Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System.

What you should know about Hurricane Laura

Laura is not another Harvey-like rain event. Yes, there will be rain, but at this point forecasters are more concerned about the storm surge and the wind.

From the National Hurricane Center: “Do not focus on the details of the official forecast given the typical uncertainty in NHC’s 2-to-3 day track and intensity predictions. In addition, storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards will extend well away from Laura’s center along the Gulf Coast. 

There is a risk of life-threatening storm surge from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Ocean Springs. Mississippi, within the next 48 hours, and a storm surge watch is in effect for these areas outside of the southeast Louisiana Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. Residents in these areas should follow any advice given by local officials.

Hurricane conditions are possible by late Wednesday from San Luis Pass, Texas, to west of Morgan City, Louisiana, with tropical storm conditions possible by Wednesday afternoon, and a hurricane watch is in effect. Hurricane Warnings will likely be issued for a portion of that area later today. 

The threat of widespread flash and urban flooding, along with small streams overflowing their banks, will be increasing Wednesday night into Thursday from far eastern Texas. across Louisiana, and Arkansas. This will also lead to minor-to-isolated moderate river flooding. The heavy rainfall threat will spread northeastward into the middle-Mississippi, lower Ohio and Tennessee Valleys Friday and Saturday.”

Marco makes landfall, downgraded 

After fizzling out and coming ashore as a tropical storm, Marco was downgraded to a tropical depression Monday night. The National Hurricane Center will no longer issue updates on what’s left of the depression.

Gov. Abbott declares state of disaster for 23 Texas counties

With the threat of Laura, Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday declared a state disaster to assist Texans who could be affected by the storms. Abbott announced Monday morning that FEMA had approved the declaration.  

The state disaster declaration was issued for 23 counties, including all coastal surge counties, plus Bexar County, which will be for staging and sheltering.

The following counties are included in the disaster declaration: Aransas, Bexar, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, and Willacy

Make sure you’re prepared for a hurricane

RELATED: Hurricane preparation tips for insurance: Before, during and after the storm

It’s way too early to know the exact intensity and track of Laura, but the one thing you can count on — you’ll be better off if you’re prepared.

Here is a list of important items you should have at home or take with you if you evacuate:

  • Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3-7 days; also fill bathtub and other containers; Gator Aid is good to fend off dehydration
  • Food – at least enough for 3-7 days; non-perishable packaged or canned food; juices; foods for infants or elderly family members; snack foods; food for special diets
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Cooking tools, fuel
  • Paper plates and cups, plastic utensils
  • Bedding: Blankets, Pillows, etc.
  • Clothing
  • Rain gear
  • Sturdy shoes
  • First Aid Kit, Medicines, Prescription Drugs
  • Toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags
  • Toiletries, hand sanitizer, hygiene items, moisture wipes, dry shampoo
  • Flashlight, batteries, lantern
  • Radio: Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
  • Telephones: Fully charged cell phone with extra battery; chargers; traditional (not cordless) telephone set
  • Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards: Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
  • Important documents: Place in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag: Should include insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, prescriptions, etc.
  • Tools: Keep a set with you during the storm
  • Gas: Fill up your vehicles several days before landfall is expected; Gas stations could lose power during a storm and supply trucks may not be able to reach the area
  • Pet care items: Proper identification, immunization records, medications, ample supply of food and water; a carrier or cage; muzzle and/ or leash
  • Bleach without lemon or any other additives
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Keys
  • Toys, books and games for children
  • Duct tape
  • Cell Phone charging stations – locations where you can charge mobile devices