Cat. 4 Hurricane Laura strengthens with winds of 145 mph

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Impacts from Laura are expected Wednesday through Thursday.

NEW ORLEANS — Category 4 Hurricane Laura continued to strengthen on Wednesday. As of 4 PM it now has 145 mph winds. Laura is now forecast to have 150 mph winds at landfall late tonight near the TX/LA state line. 

Forecasters expect Laura to be a “catastrophic” Category 4 hurricane before landfall somewhere near the Texas-Louisiana border late Wednesday night.

The brunt of the storm will stay west of southeast Louisiana, but southeast Louisiana should expect some impacts including coastal surge flooding, a risk of a few tornadoes, gusty winds and possible heavy rain. 

Impacts for our area start today, and some effects including rain and coastal flooding could continue into Thursday and even Friday.

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Hurricane Laura

HURRICANE CENTER: Latest Tracks, Models & Radar – Click here.

A hurricane warning is in effect for San Luis Pass, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Sargent Texas to San Luis Pass and east of Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

A storm surge warning is in effect or San Luis Pass Texas to the mouth of the Mississippi River. A storm surge watch is in effect for Freeport, Texas, to San Luis Pass as well as the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Miss. including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Borgne. 

⚠️Impacts from Hurricane Laura

Laura will have a more significant impact on Louisiana than Marco. For southeast Louisiana, storm surge will be the significant impact from this storm.

Storm surge

Storm surge at landfall is forecast to be the following:

  • High Island Texas to Morgan City: 7-11 feet
  • Morgan City to mouth of Mississippi River: 4-6 feet
  • Mouth of Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, MS.: 3-5 feet
  • Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Lake Maurepas: 2-4 feet

Laura is expected to bring roughly 1-4 inches of rain to southeast Louisiana from Wednesday through Friday. We should be able to handle that amount of rain, but we’ll watch closely for some heavier bands that could cause isolated flooding.

A few isolated hurricane spawned tornadoes could also spin up on Wednesday as we’ll be positioned in the tornado-prone northeast side of the storm. The Storm Prediction Center has placed our area at a ‘slight’ risk, which is level 2 out of 5. That means some isolated tornadic storms will be possible.

We’ll also have breezy winds from the east/southeast at 15-25 mph with higher gusts on Wednesday. Some low-end tropical storm force winds are expected along our coast where the tropical storm warnings are in place.

Farther west near the Texas-Louisiana state line, higher rain totals of 4-8 inches are expected, with isolated amounts of 12 inches. This rainfall can produce widespread flash and urban flooding, small streams to overflow their banks and minor river flooding. Much higher storm surge of up to 13 feet is also in the forecast for southwest Louisiana.

Of course, it is a good idea to make any storm preparations you may need to do now and make sure storm drains are cleaned.

HURRICANE CENTER: Latest Tracks, Models & Radar – Click here.

Extended Outlook

There is a pattern called the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) which is a fluctuation of favorable and unfavorable states for tropical development across the globe. This favorable/unfavorable pattern shifts every few weeks. At the end of August and into September, this pattern will shift over the Atlantic. When in a “favorable” mode, you could see multiple storms at a time and also the chance for more powerful storms. So we’ll be more favorable as we near the peak of the season. Stay tuned.

RELATED: What is a Potential Tropical Cyclone?


Hurricane season forecast to become “extremely active”

NOAA released their August hurricane season forecast update and called for an ‘Extremely Active’ season. The forecast called for 19-25 named storms, 7-11 hurricanes and 3-6 major. These numbers already include nine named storms and two hurricanes. 

The reasons for the extremely active season: 

• Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and Caribbean

• Enhanced West African Monsoon (rainy) season – causes tropical waves

• Possible La Nina forming in the months ahead

• Reduced wind shear over the Atlantic Basin – allows storms to develop

Now is the time to be prepared. Typically, the season becomes more active in the next few weeks with the peak on September 10th. 

The expert forecasters at Colorado State issued their August update on the 2020 hurricane season. Their forecast now calls for 24 named storms (total for the season), 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes.

That’s an increase of four named storms, three hurricanes, and one major hurricane.

Should there be 24 named storms, they would run out of names and have to go to the Greek alphabet, like in 2005.

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