Hurricane Laura still a Category 2 storm, six hours after landfall

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Local impacts from Laura are expected through Thursday.

NEW ORLEANS — The National Hurricane Center says Laura has weakened to a Category 2 hurricane as it moves deeper inland over Louisiana. 

That’s no longer a major hurricane but it still has extremely dangerous maximum sustained winds of 110mph, nearly five hours after striking the coast and pushing what forecasters called an unsurvivable storm surge miles inland. 

Forecasters say it’s centered about 45 miles north-northwest of Lake Charles and moving north at 15 mph.

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

The hurricane center has updated its guidance on the ocean water pushed ashore, saying they expect unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes.

Forecasters predict the highest surge, up to 20 feet, along a stretch of Louisiana coastline that includes Johnson Bayou and the towns of Holly Beach and Cameron.

Forecasters say this surge could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the immediate coastline, and floodwaters won’t fully recede for days.

Laura made landfall at 1 a.m. Thursday near Cameron, a 400-person community about 30 miles east of the Texas border. At landfall, the storm had 150 mph maximum sustained winds, making it the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. so far this year.

Forecasters warned the strong winds could rip apart buildings, level trees and toss vehicles like toys.

For southeast Louisiana: The brunt of the storm will stay west of the New Orleans metro area, but the region should expect some impacts including coastal surge flooding, a threat of a few tornados, gusty winds, and possibly heavy rain.

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⚠️Impacts from Hurricane Laura

Laura will bring some impacts for southeast Louisiana. Coastal storm surge looks like the most significant impact from this storm.

Storm surge

Storm surge at landfall is forecast to be the following:

  • Morgan City to mouth of Mississippi River: 4-7 feet
  • Mouth of Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, MS.: 1-3 feet
  • Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Lake Maurepas: 1-3 feet

Laura is expected to bring roughly 1-5 inches of rain to southeast Louisiana 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 tornadoes could spin up as we’ll be positioned in the tornado-prone northeast and east side of the storm. The Storm Prediction Center has placed our area through Thursday at a ‘marginal’ to ‘slight’ risk, which are the lowest two levels out of five. That means some isolated tornadic storms will be possible. The most likely area for those would be farther west toward Baton Rogue.

We’ll also have breezy winds from the east/southeast at 15-25 mph with higher gusts through Thursday. 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?

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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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