(Updated 11:25 a.m. EDT Wednesday, August 26) Major Hurricane Laura continues to intensify and The National Hurricane Center has increased the storm surge potential up to 20 FEET along the Upper Texas Coast and Far Southwest Louisiana Coast. On it’s current path, this would put the Port Arthur area in extreme danger with catastrophic damage likely. Cartographic storm damage is likely 30 miles inland and high water could reach or exceed Interstate 10.
The first outer bands of Laura are currently approaching the Louisiana coast and a Special Marine Warning has been issued for the potential of waterspouts. As these bands move inland, tornadoes will be possible throughout the day and into the overnight.
Laura continues to strengthen over very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to become a dangerous Category 4 Hurricane (current National Hurricane Center peak wind forecast is 145 mph) before landfall late this evening into the overnight hours. Due to rapid intensification, it’s POSSIBLE that Laura could make a run at Category 5 strength prior to landfall.
While Laura is expected to continue moving around a large ridge of high pressure and NOT stalling, there will still be a 6 to 12 hour window of extreme wind, very heavy rain, and life-threatening storm surge. Just near and to the right of the center of Laura, 8 to 14 inches of rain is expected.
Laura will weaken as it moves into Arkansas and the Tennessee River Valley, however, it will interact with a front on Friday and bring heavy rain potential for the Mid-Atlantic, along with gusty winds, and the POTENTIAL for a few isolated tornadoes as the center moves right over Virginia this weekend. Right now, it’s too early to go into how much rain the Mid-Atlantic will see. However, since it will be interacting with a front and there’s plenty of tropical moisture, locally 3 inches of rain is possible. Gusty winds are also possible, but will depend on the track.