The National Hurricane Center (NHC) released the following information in its 7 a.m. advisory on Hurricane Laura:
LOCATION: 30.9N 93.3W, 55 miles north of Lake Charles
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS: 105 mph
PRESENT MOVEMENT: N at 15 mph
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE: 964 mb
At 7 a.m., the center of Hurricane Laura was located near latitude 31.2 North, longitude 93.3 West. Laura is moving toward the north near 15 mph (24 km/h) and this motion should continue through the day. A northeastward to east-northeastward motion is expected tonight and Friday. On the forecast track, Laura will move northward across western and northern Louisiana through this afternoon. The center of Laura is forecast to move over Arkansas tonight, the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday, and the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday. Maximum sustained winds are near 100 mph (160 km/h) with higher gusts. Rapid weakening is forecast, and Laura is expected to become a tropical storm later today. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km). An observing site in Alexandria, Louisiana, recently reported a wind gust to 74 mph (119 km/h) The estimated minimum central pressure is 970 mb (28.64 inches).
INFORMATION FROM THE WAFB FIRST ALERT STORM TEAM:
This storm is stronger than both 2005 Rita and 1957 Audrey at time of landfall. In fact, Laura is now the strongest hurricane to hit any part of Louisiana since 1969s Camille.
Indeed, Laura is sure to be the most powerful hurricane to hit Louisiana since 1969′s Category 5 Camille and go down in the Louisiana history books as one of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the Bayou State.
For the WAFB area, while we will not have to deal with a direct hit from this tropical monster, tropical storm force winds are likely to arrive at some point between the overnight hours into Thursday. However, rain bands (those extended lines of showers and t-storms that pinwheel around and into the center of the hurricane’s circulation) will be our most significant concern. Thunderstorms embedded within these bands, lined up like railroad cars in a long train, can produce locally heavy downpours, generally create the biggest wind gusts, and as we’ve seen throughout the day Wednesday, repetitive tornadic threats.
A Tornado Watch is in effect until 8 a.m. Thursday morning. While there has only been one confirmed tornado touchdown (preliminary) thus far, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued roughly 30 Tornado Warnings across southeast Louisiana between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tornado Warnings have continued into the evening and the Storm Team expects them to continue through the night and into Thursday.
Most of the WAFB area can expect 2″ to 5″ of rain for this tropical event, but those numbers could get considerably higher for those areas under persistent and/or repetitive rain bands.
The Storm Team anticipates a busy Thursday, with showers and storms from the morning into the afternoon, with the severe threat slowly subsiding during the afternoon and evening.
A widespread “brown out” is not anticipated for the WAFB region but be prepared for area power outages to increase as Laura moves inland overnight and heads north.
Laura’s impacts will slowly fade, but the Storm Team forecast maintains rain likely for each day from Friday through the weekend.
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