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Tropical Storm Laura Poses an Increasing Major Hurricane Danger For the Texas and Louisiana Coast

Hurricane

At a Glance

  • Tropical Storm Laura will produce flooding rainfall in Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
  • Laura will enter the Gulf of Mexico by early Tuesday.
  • Conditions in the Gulf of Mexico could allow Laura to strengthen significantly.
  • The intensity and track is still uncertain for when Laura approaches the U.S. Gulf Coast.
  • However, there is an increasing major hurricane danger for parts of the Texas and Louisiana coasts by late Wednesday.
  • It's too early to determine specific details on the impacts the Gulf Coast will see.
Tropical Storm Laura could strengthen quickly into a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico with a dangerous threat of storm surge along parts of the Louisiana and Texas coasts, and a threat of heavy rain and strong winds extending well inland later in the week.

Current Conditions

Laura is currently centered near western Cuba. Flooding rainfall and gusty winds will continue in parts of Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands today.

Sustained winds of 60 mph with a gust over 70 mph was measured in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Sunday evening.

Laura will continue to track west-northwest through Tuesday with heavy rainfall and tropical-storm-force winds spreading along its path into Cuba and parts of the Florida Keys.

Tropical storm warnings extend from Cuba to parts of the Cayman Islands and the middle and lower Florida Keys.

U.S. Hurricane Threat

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast shows Laura's center is expected to track near or over parts of Cuba through early Tuesday.

But then it's expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico by early Tuesday morning, where intensification is forecast to begin.

With warm Gulf water and a lack of wind shear, it's possible that Laura could undergo a brief period of rapid intensification according to the NHC. That means it could have a wind speed increase of at least 35 mph in 24 hours.

Laura is then expected to make landfall somewhere along the Louisiana or Texas coast Wednesday night. Conditions are expected to deteriorate in these areas by Wednesday.

There may still be subtle changes to the track and intensity forecast over the next day or so.

"Users are again reminded to not focus on the exact details of the track or intensity forecasts as the average NHC track error at 72 hours is around 100 miles and the average intensity error is around 15 mph," the NHC said early Monday morning.

The bottom line is that Laura is likely to bring storm surge, rainfall and wind impacts to parts of Texas and/or Louisiana Gulf Coasts by midweek. As of right now, the center of Laura is most likely to make landfall somewhere from the upper Texas coast to the southwest or central Louisiana coast. But keep in mind that a hurricane isn't just a point. Impacts will extend far from where the center eventually moves inland.

Laura could also spread rain and wind impacts far inland through parts of the lower Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley late this week.

The NHC forecast indicates that 4 to 8 inches of rainfall, with maximum amounts of 12 inches, is possible from portions of the west-central U.S. Gulf Coast to the lower Mississippi Valley during the second half of this week, with the potential for flash flooding to extend well inland.

All interests along the Texas and Louisiana coasts should monitor this forecast closely and make preparations for a possible hurricane strike. Check weather.com for updates.

Caribbean Forecast

Heavy rainfall will be the primary impact from Laura in the northern Caribbean. The rainfall could cause flash flooding and mudslides, particularly in Cuba and the Cayman Islands Monday.

Rainfall totals of 4 to 6 inches are possible in Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands, with isolated totals of 10 inches.

Gusty winds from Laura could also cause tree damage and knock out power in some areas.

Laura's History

Tropical Depression Thirteen formed in the Atlantic last Wednesday night and strengthed into Tropical Storm Laura on Friday morning.

Laura is the earliest Atlantic 'L' named storm on record. The previous record was Luis on Aug. 29, 1995, according to Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University.

Laura brought heavy rainfall and gusty winds to the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico later Friday through Saturday.

Southern parts of Puerto Rico picked up 2 to 6 inches of rainfall.

Winds gusted up to 75 mph at Salinas, along Puerto Rico's southern coast.

Portions of the Dominican Republic picked up nearly a foot of rain from Laura over the weekend.

 

This article was originally published on weather.com

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