Laura intensifies, landfall expected early Thursday morning
HOUSTON, Tx. — Laura continues to intensify, strengthening to a category 2 hurricane overnight with maximum sustained winds of 110mph.
As of 4:50 am (CDT), #Laura at category 2 hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds at 110 mph, gusting to 130 mph— Tim Schmidt (@komuTim) August 26, 2020
Developing an eye wall and has also grown in size, expected to reach category 4 strength before landfall around 1am Thursday pic.twitter.com/EQTCoHH6lJ
Residents along the Gulf coast coast have already dealt with heavy rain and storm surge from tropical storm Marco earlier this week. Now residents are preparing for another, potentially stronger storm.
Laura is forecast to reach category 3 strength Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. However, further intensification to a category 4 hurricane is anticipated before Laura makes landfall around 1am Thursday morning near the Texas/Louisiana border.
Laura underwent "rapid intensification" on Tuesday. This is due to Gulf water temps near 86 degrees. Studies have shown that under favorable atmospheric conditions, tropical systems that pass over these ocean waters at temps greater than 85 degrees can increase winds speeds at 1 mph for every hour spent over the open water.
An estimated 36 hours in the Gulf equates to a 36 mph increase in peak wind speed. This would put Laura at category 3 or 4 strength before landfall, according to the Saffir-Simpson hurricane rating scale.
EXPECTED GULF COAST IMPACTS
Landfall is expected around 1am Thursday morning The National Hurricane Center has a hurricane watch in effect along the coast from Houston/Galveston to Morgan City, LA and a tropical storm watch from to Morgan City, LA to New Orleans.
The National Hurricane Center expects a peak storm surge of 7-11 ft above tide focused along the Louisiana coast. Storm surge watches are also in effect due to this hazard. It is important to note that high tide is expected at 1:38am Thursday morning, around the same time of landfall.
Think it's interesting to note that high tide for the Galveston pier is at 1:38am Thursday morning, around the same time as expected landfall - greater storm surge impacts— Tim Schmidt (@komuTim) August 25, 2020
Storm surge forecast is 7-11ft #Laura pic.twitter.com/a84siYpHZK
Tropical systems are also associated with heavy rainfall and extreme flooding. Expected rainfall from Laura will be around 4" to 10". That is in addition to the 2" to 5" rainfall Marco produced earlier this week.
FOR CENTRAL MISSOURI
Laura is expected to be downgraded to a tropical depression by Thursday afternoon over Louisiana and Arkansas, then will turn east early Friday morning. Rainfall will be possible Friday over Missouri, but will largely miss central Missouri due to this expected eastward turn. Main locations for rainfall will be in southern Missouri, south of I-44. Stay tuned!