AccuWeather's Bill Wadell recorded from inside a hotel as Hurricane Laura lashed Sulphur, Louisiana, on Aug. 27. The storm's strong winds knocked the power out, while heavy wind and rain caused windows and doors to leak.
Here are the most important things you need to know and the latest updates, listed in eastern time, about Hurricane Laura.
The Louisiana Department of Health (DOH) has now confirmed six deaths in the state related to Hurricane Laura. The recently reported fatalities include a 24-year-old man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator in his home and a man who drowned on a sinking ship. The four other fatalities, including a 14-year-old-girl, resulted from fallen trees. So far, no deaths have been reported outside of Louisiana. The DOH also reported 67 water system outages related to the hurricane that they estimate impacts more than 220,000 residents in the state.
Laura pounded the coastline of Louisiana with 150-mph winds when it made landfall overnight -- the strongest hurricane to ever strike the Louisiana coast. Images taken when the sun came up on Thursday and throughout the showed extensive damage from the storm. Click through the slide show above to see the destruction cause by Laura.
The number of customers without power continues to rise in the wake of Hurricane Laura, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. Louisiana was the hardest-hit state, with now over 595,000 customers without power out of 2.1 million customers tracked. Calcasieu County alone reported 102,931 customers out of 104,854 in the county that are out of power. Nearly 247,00 customers in Texas are also out of power, with outages focused along the border of Texas and Louisiana, according to poweroutage.us. Outages have now spread to neighboring states including Arkansas and Mississippi, with over 52,000 reportedly out of power in Arkansas and more than 10,000 out in Mississippi.
Footage from Hackberry, Louisiana, displayed piles of wood torn from homes after Hurricane Laura whipped through the state. Since the area is very low in elevation, some flooding still remains even though the storm surge has passed, Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer, who has been reporting from the ground and saw the destruction firsthand, reported. Two people who rode out the hurricane in an RV described to Timmer that the winds had sounded "like a freight train," and that they had been “terrified.” After riding out Hurricane Laura, one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Louisiana, they stated would never try to ride out a hurricane again in the area.
Louisiana State Police announced in a public safety alert on Facebook that the Emergency Services Unit is continuing to work on what has now been confirmed as a chlorine leak from BioLab chemical manufacturing facility in Westlake. They are working with plant managers to effectively contain the leak as supplies are already scarce due to Hurricane Laura. AccuWeather's Bill Wadell was on the scene of the plant fire, and reported that officials "wanted folks to get inside" amid a shelter-in-place order. Gusty winds in the area are also causing concern as smoke billows from the plant. Additionally, I-10 in southwest Louisiana remained closed through the duration fo the night due to Hurricane Laura’s strike, and residents in the surrounding area are advised to shelter in place. The state police advise against any unnecessary travel.
As Laura continued its push inland on Thursday, it lost its hurricane properties around midday, with sustained wind speeds dropping to 70 mph. The storm is still dangerous, despite its weakening, and was moving quickly to the north at 15 mph, according to the NHC. Lake Charles and Cameron, both in Louisiana, recorded the top wind gusts during the height of the storm at 137 mph and 127 mph, respectively. AccuWeather forecasters say Laura will continue weakening as it moves to the Northeast, but that what is left of the once-powerful hurricane could get a second wind when it moves back out over the Atlantic Ocean.
The roof of the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Lake Charles was ripped apart this morning and the moment was captured on footage by WRKG. Another casino in Lake Charles, L’Auberge Casino Resort, also sustained damage early Thursday morning. In the WRKG video, strong winds can be seen ripping chunks of the roof off and spewing debris around the building. According to ABC13, hundreds of refinery workers and first responders were staying at the hotel waiting for the storm to pass.
Residents are being told to shelter in place due to a reported chemical fire in the Lake Charles area. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday morning that residents living in the towns of Westlake, Moss Bluff and Sulphur should shelter in place, close their windows and turn off air conditioning units. "Stay inside and wait for additional direction from local officials," Bel Edwards said.
Videos posted to social media showed dark plumes of smoke drifting over Interstate 10. A video shared to Facebook by the Cajun Navy, a citizen rescue group, urged people not to drive through the area. Meanwhile, AccuWeather National Reporter Jonathan Petramala, who's been on the ground reporting from Louisiana, captured video of dark smoke clouds from the fire billowing into the air over Interstate 10 on Thursday. Watch below.
Radar is one of the most important tools that meteorologists use when tracking storms, but it may be a while before the radar in Lake Charles, Louisiana, is opperational again. The radar in Lake Charles was completely destroyed by Laura. Typically, a radar looks like a golf ball on top of a tower, but the structure at the top of the tower in Lake Charles was swept away by the intense winds during the height of the hurricane on Wednesday night. This specific type of radar is designed to withstand winds of 134 mph and may be the first of its kind in the continental U.S. to be destroyed by a topical system, NOAA’s NEXRAD Radar Operations Center said on Twitter.
Over a half million customers in Louisiana have been left in the dark in the wake of Hurricane Laura. Of the 2.1 million electrical customers tracked, over 520,000 are without power as of 10 a.m., CDT. Another 138,567 customers in Texas and over 10,000 in Mississippi are also without power due to the storm. Calcasieu County in southwestern Louisiana has been the most impacted as 101,123 residents are currently without power, according to PowerOutage.us. Across Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, close to 700,000 total customers are without power late Thursday morning.Laura's wind speeds dropped to 75 mph, barely above hurricane status, as it moved inland. The storm will likely be downgraded in the coming hours.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has confirmed the first fatality in the state from Hurricane Laura. According to the governor, a 14-year-old girl died in Leesville when a tree fell on her home. According to NOLA.com, the governor said the National Guard has been unable thus far to take helicopters around damaged areas for surveys and a full assessment was not yet available. Leesville is located in Vernon Parish, just under 100 miles inland.
The National Hurricane Center's latest update indicates that Laura continues to weaken over central Louisiana. Laura is now a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. The storm is about 65 miles south-southeast of Shreveport, Louisiana. A 79 mph wind gust was recently reported at the Alexandria, Louisiana, airport.
Laura seen moving inland over Louisiana on Thursday morning, Aug. 27, 2020. (Image/NOAA GOES East)
Even an RV and a box truck were no match for Hurricane Laura’s intense winds on Thursday morning. Separate videos showed the two heavy vehicles being toppled by the violent winds, both of which occurred in Lake Charles. The video of the truck flipping over also depicted large trees bending under the gusts and debris spread all over roads.
Over six hours after Hurricane Laura slammed into the coast of Louisiana, no fatalities have been announced in the Bayou State. While impact reports are still trickling in, Gov. John Bel Edwards told CNN that the initial report of no fatalities thus far is a blessing. “I don’t know how long that will hold up, but that’s a blessing,” he said.
“I will tell you the damage was extensive,” the governor said. “The wind speed was as promised… We have about 1,500 people engaged in search and rescue moving into Lake Charles area now. We’re also going to have to do some of this search and rescue work all the way up the western side of the state as the storm moves north.”
Category 4 winds and a catastrophic storm surge from Hurricane Laura have left many areas of coastal Luisiana in ruins. A post on Facebook showed a before and after photo depicting a completely flattened building, taken from the Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel and Casino. According to the Facebook post, the photos were shared at 2:36 a.m., CDT, just over an hour after Laura made landfall in Cameron Parish, located about 50 miles south of Lake Charles.
Power outage totals in Texas and Louisiana continue to climb steadily as the impacts of Hurricane Laura ravages coastal communities. According to PowerOutage.us, over 400,000 residents between the two states are without power this morning, over 338,000 of which come from Louisiana.
In Cameron Parish, where the hurricane made direct landfall, over 98% of tracked electricity users are without power as of 5:30 a.m., CDT.
Screenshot from PowerOutage.us showing the widespread power outages throughout Louisiana as Hurricane Laura works its way through the state. (PowerOutage.us)
As Hurricane Laura continues to batter inland Louisiana, its strength has diminished to maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, the upper threshold for a Category 2 storm, as of 5 a.m., CDT.
According to data kept by the National Hurricane Center, when Hurricane Laura crashed onto the Louisiana coast this morning, it matched the strongest landfalling winds ever recorded in state history. Colorado State University Meteorologist Philip Klotzbach compiled the list showing Laura tied with the Lost Island hurricane of 1856, which also reached an estimated 150 mph at landfall before official recordings were measured.
On Twitter, Klotzbach added that Laura was the westernmost Category 4 or 5 hurricane to ever make landfall in the state and the seventh ever major hurricane to strike Louisiana in August.
Hurricane Laura has wrought intense damage across coastal communities in Lousiana and while many residents did heed the dire need to evacuate, a few also stayed behind, Tony Guillory, president of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, told The Associated Press. “There are some people still in town and people are calling the building but there ain’t no way to get to them,” Guillory told The AP from a government building in Lake Charles.
On Twitter, President Donald Trump urged residents to listen to evacuation orders, but in Cameron Parish, where the hurricane made direct landfall, at least 150 people refused to leave and planned to ride the storm out.
“It’s a very sad situation,” Ashley Buller, assistant director of emergency preparedness, told The AP. “We did everything we could to encourage them to leave.”
Power outages have risen to over 296,000 customers in Louisiana and over 75,000 customers in southeast Texas as Laura continues to charge inland, according to PowerOutage.us.
The latest update from the National Hurricane Center shows that Laura has begun to lose wind intensity as it is now at Category 3 strength with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. The center of the storm was located 30 miles north-northwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, as of 4 a.m. CDT. Despite Laura's weakening, forecasters say the storm remains extremely dangerous and poses a significant threat to life and property.
The doppler radar in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has been knocked out of service due to Laura's ferocious winds. The radar took a direct hit from the eye of Laura. Weather observations at Lake Charles Regional Airport recorded a 132 mph wind gust before the station stopped reporting.
Hurricane Laura is seen on satellite shortly after making landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, early Thursday morning, Aug. 27, 2020. (CIRA/RAMMB)
Laura has made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Cameron, Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). At 1 a.m. CDT, the NHC stated that winds remained at 150 mph with even higher gusts. Laura fell just shy of reaching Category 5 strength prior to landfall, which has maximum sustained winds of 157 mph. The hurricane will continue to cause significant, widespread damage due to intense winds, flooding rainfall, tornadoes and catastrophic storm surge as it moves inland.
A radar image of Laura making landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, early Thursday morning. (AccuWeather)
A rare Extreme Wind Warning has been issued for portions of the Texas and Louisiana coast as the northern eyewall of Laura roars over Cameron Parish. "THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION! Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to the safe room in your shelter. Take action now to protect your life!" the warning from the National Weather Service said. A weather station in Cameron, Louisiana, recently reported a sustained wind of 84 mph (135 km/h) with a gust to 110 mph (177 km/h).
AccuWeather's Bill Wadell, stationed in Sulphur just west of Lake Charles, Louisiana, reported that the power was out at his hotel just before midnight and water was beginning to leak into his room.
Laura is only the fifth hurricane on record to pack winds of 150 mph or greater this far north in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University. Laura joins the 1856 Last Island hurricane, 1932 Freeport hurricane, Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Michael in 2018 in reaching this benchmark.
Hurricane Laura is just hours away from making landfall and it continues to grow stronger. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 150 mph, just 7 mph shy of being classified as a Category 5 storm. Regardless of if Laura does reach this benchmark, significant, widespread damage is anticipated due to intense winds and catastrophic storm surge. “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,” the National Hurricane Center said. “This surge could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the immediate coastline, and floodwaters will not fully recede for several days after the storm.”
Hurricane Laura approaching the Gulf Coast on Wednesday evening. (NOAA/GOES-East)
"I will tell you we are certain that at this time tomorrow we will be doing search and rescue for a large number of individuals, many of whom are going to need to require sheltering after that for some period of time before they can go home,” Louisiana Gov. John Edwards told Fox News’ “Your World” host Neil Cavuto. "Things are very, very serious," Edwards told Cavuto. "We have a storm that’s a Category 4. It’s going to make landfall just after midnight. It continues to grow in size and intensity and quite frankly the storm surge is going to be a huge threat to life and, in fact, the National Weather Service took the unprecedented step of saying the storm surge is going to be unsurvivable.” Louisiana Gov. John Edwards announced I-10 will be closed from the Atchfalaya bridge in Louisiana to west of the Texas state line due to likely flooding. "Down in Cameron Parish, where we expect to be ground zero, there has been a parish-wide mandatory evacuation in place since yesterday," Edwards continued. "We expect most of that parish to look just like the rest of the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of days and then on into Calcasieu Parish where we have Lake Charles and evacuations that continue."
On Wednesday, the United Cajun Navy was busy preparing to dispatch its rescue boats to southwest Louisiana to help with search, rescue and recovery efforts. The volunteer rescue group's leader said Hurricane Laura will likely present challenges of an "epic proportion." The nonprofit is asking the public for donations including water bottles, snack foods, Gatorade, Powerade, tarps, gas cans and trash bags to aid in their relief efforts. The group has received fewer donations than in previous years, a fact that Todd Terrell, the head of United Cajun Navy, attributes to the economic repercussions from the COVID-19 outbreak. The volunteer group also has significantly fewer boats on hand since much of the volunteer force is facing their own evacuations, according to The Advocate. "The problem is, in Louisiana, a lot of the boaters will be taking care of their own families," Terrell said. The United Cajun Navy dispatched 1,000 boats to Houston after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, however, Terrell estimated they have roughly 75 boats ready Laura.
The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has evacuated and boarded up their office building, due to weather safety concerns. The NWS office in Brownsville, Texas, has taken over all forecast operations for the Lake Charles area until NWS Lake Charles is able to reopen safely.
Alexia Green has fled her home in Beaumont, Texas, about 85 miles east of Houston and just near the Louisiana border. She knows all too well the suffering a powerful hurricane can cause, she told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell. Green recalled being stranded when Hurricane Harvey struck in 2017 and dumped record rainfall on the Houston area. This time, she's not taking any chances. She packed up her young kids and brought them to an evacuation center. "I know we're going to lose our house because it's so low," she told Wadell of the elevation at which her home sits. But amid the threat of her life being upended by the approaching storm, Green said she was able to appreciate a major positive as she fled with her kids. Watch Wadell's full report here.
Alexia Green of Beaumont, Texas, said she was worried she would lose her home when Hurricane Laura strikes. (AccuWeather)
Storm surge will begin to escalate heading into Wednesday night as Hurricane Laura approaches and as high tide nears. “Low tide occurred along the northwestern Gulf coast within the past hour, and water levels are expected to rise quickly through the evening and overnight due to storm surge and the tide,” the National Hurricane Center said. High tide near Cameron, Louisiana, will occur around 11:45 p.m. CDT Wednesday, shortly before Laura is projected to make landfall. This will likely be when the worst storm surge will be observed.
Hurricane Laura is nearing the Gulf Coast and water from the ocean is already starting to penetrate inland. “Water levels are beginning to rise along the coast of Louisiana,” the National Hurricane Center said. “A National Ocean Service water level station at Eugene Island, Louisiana, recently reported about 3.2 feet of inundation above ground level.” Farther inland, the Calcasieu River at Saltwater Barrier near Lake Charles, Louisiana, is forecast to crest above 15 feet. This would wash away the current record high level of 13 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Most notably is the rapid rise in water level, spiking by 10 feet in a matter of hours.
This graph shows the expected water level at the Calcasieu River near Lake Charles, Louisiana, during the worst of Hurricane Laura. (NOAA)
Hurricane Laura has undergone rapid intensification with maximum sustained wind speeds jumping from 75 mph to 140 mph in just 24 hours. This is the fastest intensification of any hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Hurricane Maria in 2017, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach. A plethora of lightning was detected around the eye of the hurricane during this timeframe, one of the indicators that the storm is strengthening.
A close up view of Hurricane Laura on Wednesday. Lighting was detected around the eye of the storm by the GOES-East weather satellite. (NOAA)
The threat of tornadoes may disrupt final preparations in Louisiana and eastern Texas before the worst of Laura arrives on Wednesday night. A tornado watch has been issued for the region, including most of the coast between Galveston, Texas, and New Orleans and bigger cities such as Beaumont, Texas, and Lake Charles and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A tornado has already been reported near Paincourtville, Louisiana, when one of the outer bands of Hurricane Laura moved through the area.
According to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach, Laura could be a history-making storm. Since record-keeping began in 1851, no Category 4 or 5 hurricanes have made landfall in far eastern Texas or southwest Louisiana, he said on Twitter. Klotzbach also notes that Laura is the strongest hurricane to roam the Gulf of Mexico in August since Katrina in 2005, which peaked at Category 5 strength. Laura is a monstrous Category 4 storm packing 140 mph winds that is expected to unleash catastrophic damage across the northwestern Gulf Coast. And its impacts will continue to be felt for days even after it moves inland.
Klotzbach also said that only three Category 4 hurricanes on record have made landfall in Louisiana recorded history. Those storms were: The Last Island storm of 1856; the Cheniere Caminada hurricane of 1893; and Betsy which hammered southeast Louisiana in 1965.
A first responder at St. George Island in Florida was killed on Tuesday after attempting to save a man who was swimming in the hurricane-churned waters. The rough surf rendered flotation devices helpless, Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith. “The conditions are terrible,” he said. “There’s a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, so I’m asking all the tourists don’t go in the water. If you’re in the water and you’re told to leave and you don’t, you will be arrested. We’re serious about this. There’s no reason for any other loss of life.” Smith announced the news via a Facebook video, according to WTXL.com, and added that he knew many of the swimmers in the water were tourists because local residents knew better than to swim on a double-red flag day.
Data from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft has found that Hurricane Laura is now a Category 4 storm, the first storm to reach such an intensity in the Atlantic basin this year. Laura's maximum sustained winds are around 140 mph. The storm is located about 200 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Port Arthur, Texas.
AccuWeather meteorologists now expect Laura to remain at Category 4 strength through its expected landfall along the Texas/Louisiana border early Thursday. The northwest Gulf Coast is expected to receive catastrophic impacts from the storm's devastating storm surge and high winds. AccuWeather meteorologists say some locations could be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
"Little time remains to protect life and property," the National Hurricane Center said.
A satellite loop showing Hurricane Laura approaching the Gulf Coast over a two-hour period on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. (NOAA / AccuWeather)
Hurricane Laura is already menacing the Gulf Coast and its worst impacts will be felt only several hours from now. Satellite footage from NOAA shows the storm spinning over the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday while numerous lightning flashes can been seen from the storm's eyewall as captured in the brief video below.
Radar images showed the outermost bands of Hurricane Laura were beginning to bring rainfall to the Louisiana coastline. The center of the powerful storm, which is packing wind speeds of 125 mph, was still about 200 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is about 140 miles east of Houston, Texas, at around mid-day on Wednesday. Forecasters expect Laura to barrel ashore somewhere near the Texas-Louisiana border during the overnight hours, bringing with it a life-threatening storm surge and winds in excess of 100 mph.
AccuWeather forecasters increased their prediction for coastal inundation from Laura. They are now projecting a storm surge of 15 to 20 feet near Cameron, Louisiana, a coastal town about 135 miles east of Houston, Texas.
"A storm surge of that magnitude, combined with wave action, would be high enough to fully devastate the second story of structures located along the coast. Moving water with wave action has the force of being in the middle of a large river. Waters will begin to rise and some coastal roads can become flooded well in advance of the center of the storm's arrival on the coast,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
AccuWeather’s top hurricane expert, Dan Kottlowski, said that the storm-surge flooding from Laura is expected to pose the greatest threat to lives and property.
The National Hurricane Center included dire warnings about the storm-surge flooding in its 10 a.m. CDT update: “Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas to Intracoastal City, Louisiana."
With the rapid intensification of Hurricane Laura comes rapidly changing possibilities. Meteorologists are now saying that the first major hurricane of 2020 could reach “perhaps even Category 5 strength,” according to Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. Category 5 would mean wind speeds at 157 mph or greater. While the strength at landfall still expected to be at Category 3 as the storm weakens near land, meteorologists are saying the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico could set the stage for Category 5 numbers.
“I want to stress that even if it weakens, there will be almost zero difference with the impacts. This will still be a storm that will produce a lot of damage and life-threatening conditions where it makes landfall," AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
That lack of change in impacts can be represented by the AccuWeather RealImpact rating of 4, a method devised by the company that factors in more than just wind speed. The scale is designed to communicate a more comprehensive representation of a storm's potential impact on lives and livelihoods.
Hurricane Laura is now producing maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, per the National Hurricane Center's latest update. The storm is currently just below the threshold for Category 4 strength (winds of 130 to 156 mph). "Only a few hours remain to protect life and property," the NHC said in its update. The storm is currently about 225 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and moving northwest at 16 mph.
As Laura gets closer to shore, the storm is taking an eerily similar path to one notorious hurricane from the 2005 season: Rita. Rita was the last major hurricane to hit near the border of Louisiana and Texas and produced a maximum storm surge of 18 feet. The storm made landfall on Sept. 24, 2005, about one month after Katrina blasted southeastern Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Rita is the last major hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana. The storm peaked at Category 5 strength with winds of 180 mph, before slightly weakening to a Category 3 storm by the time it made landfall. Rita produced devastating storm surge and wind damage across southwestern Texas and Louisiana and also reportedly spawned up to 90 tornadoes.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards drew upon the Rita comparison at a press conference on Monday. “Every storm is unique; I can tell you. We’re only going to dodge the bullet so many times, and the current forecast for Laura has it focused intently on Louisiana,” Edwards said, according to WWLTV. “Understand right now, the strength of this hurricane is going to be akin to Rita. Not to Marco or any of the other storms, and that’s why we need to continue to prepare and continue to pray.
Rita caused $18.5 billion in economic damage, according to a NOAA report, and was rated as a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. According to AccuWeather's RealImpact Scale, Rita would've been classified as a 4, which is now what AccuWeather meteorologists currently forecast for Laura. Adjusted for inflation, Rita's economic impact would've been $24.6 billion in damages in 2020.
This image shows Hurricane Rita's track through the Gulf of Mexico and over Texas and Louisiana in September 2005. The latest track forecast for Laura can be seen below.
Hurricane Laura is now rated a 4 on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes, a method devised in 2019 to better assess the overall potential damage a storm can cause. With a RealImpact rating of 4, residents in the directly impacted areas can expect severe, long-lasting flooding from coast to inland. Meteorologists are also now saying Hurricane Laura could peak at Category 4 strength on the Saffir-Sampson scale, which classifies storms by wind speed, before it dips back down to Category 3 ahead of landfall.
Laura has officially strengthened into the first major hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season as the system has reached maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, putting Laura at Category 3 strength. As of 7 a.m., CDT, the National Hurricane Center had the storm located less than 300 miles southeast of the Texas-Lousiana border as it moves northwest at 15 mph.
People as well as thousands of animals are being evacuated to higher ground in southwestern Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Laura. “We went through Rita and we lost a bunch and I think everyone in the lower cameron perish learned a lesson. We lost a lot of cattle,” Rancher Cody Sibille said. Sibille’s house was destroyed by the storm. Memories from Hurricane Rita 15 years ago taught some residents in Southwestern Louisiana to never underestimate a hurricane. “I think everybody is leaving. No body is going to stay. Nobody wants to take a chance after Rita destroyed this place once before,” Louisiana resident Carrol Dohon.
AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski noted the size of Hurricane Laura, which is currently possessing a diameter of 150 nautical miles or 173 statute miles, puts the storm on the smaller side, currently. He added that Laura currently has a radius of maximum winds of 30 miles and the diameter of the eye is likely between 15 and 20 miles in diameter.
According to Kottlowski, 300 miles is an accepted average diameter of a hurricane, which is determined by the last closed isobar around the storm.
Laura seen on satellite early Wednesday morning. The storm's eye is becoming more notable. (Image/CIRA RAMMB)
The most recent recordings from the National Hurricane Center indicate that Hurricane Laura is whipping up maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, just on the cusp of reaching Category 3 strength, which is 111 mph and stronger. As of the 4 a.m., CDT, the center of the storm is located in the center of the Gulf of Mexico and moving northwest at 15 mph.
As of early Wednesday morning, Laura has intensified to a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. The hurricane is expected to continue gaining strength throughout the day Wednesday.
AccuWeather Founder and CEO Joel Myers said the economic damages from Hurricane Laura could total between $25 billion and $30 billion. Laura is forecast to come ashore as a Category 3 hurricane near the Texas and Louisiana border. Precisely where Laura makes landfall will have a pivotal effect on the economic toll it takes. Myers said the economic fallout could be greater if the storm tracks farther to the west toward the Houston metropolitan area.
With less than 48 hours until Laura is expected to make landfall, people in the path of the strengthening storm are relocating to safety rather than attempting to ride out the hurricane. “Families that have to rely on school buses to evacuate must go through a medical screening and wear these face masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” AccuWeather Reporter Bill Wadell said while in Port Arthur, Texas, on Tuesday. One resident told Wadell that she was a little hesitant to go to a shelter where they would be around others, but she wanted to make sure that her family was safe and will practice social distancing to avoid getting sick. Click here to see Wadell’s interview with residents and the mayor of Port Arthur.
NOAA Hurricane Hunters took a photo in the center of Hurricane Laura, showing the eye of the storm during a mission on Tuesday. Although some gusty showers and thunderstorms on the outer periphery of the storm reached the Florida Keys on Monday night, with wind gusts of 40-50 mph, the brunt of Laura's wrath is set to charge toward parts of the central and northwestern U.S. Gulf Coast.
The center of Hurricane Laura seen from NOAA WP-3D Orion N42RF Kermit on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (Image/NOAA/Nick Underwood)
With evacuations underway, the Harris County Toll Road Authority announced Tuesday morning it has waived fees immediately. Fees will remain waived to accommodate activities associated with the response and recovery in the region, such as evacuations, Judge Lina Hidalgo ordered at 9:20 a.m. on Tuesday. Officials will implement contraflow on I-10 as a last resort for evacuations. "We want to make sure that we provide easy access for people who may be traveling throughout areas," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a press conference on Monday, according to The Houston Chronicle. The City of Galveston issued a mandatory evacuation order Tuesday morning. Several areas still have voluntary evacuations, but officials said that can change depending on further storm updates.
People in Houston are being told to finish preparations before Hurricane Laura begins to move into southeastern Texas. “This is a serious event and we should treat it as such,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said on Tuesday afternoon. “I am asking Houstonians to be off the road by 8 p.m. tomorrow if not sooner. You should be where you are at that time.” Currently, the worst of Laura is projected to focus east of Houston, but if the hurricane tracks a bit farther west, then Houston would take a harder hit. “Please make sure your hurricane preparedness kits are stocked with the essential items you need including masks, hand sanitizers, and medicine,” Turner added. “Also, please make sure to check and pick up items around your house that could become projectiles in the wind.”
One of the biggest dangers with Hurricane Laura for residents that live near the Gulf Coast is the life-threatening storm surge. “The surge could be as high as 9-13 ft above ground level along the southwestern Louisiana and far southeastern Texas coasts and could penetrate as far inland as 30 miles,” the National Hurricane Center said. People that live near the coast should listen to evacuation orders when they are given and leave before the storm arrives. Once the storm surge begins, roads may become inundated and remain underwater until after Laura passes. “Actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion this evening, as water levels will begin to rise on Wednesday," the National Weather Service added.
Satellite imagery showed Hurricane Laura starting to form an eye over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, which is a sign of an intensifying storm. Winds have increased to 80 mph, the beginning of rapid intensification. When Laura makes landfall later Wednesday night, it could be a Category 3 hurricane.
Hurricane Laura beings to develop an eye, as seen in this satellite loop. (NOAA/GOES-East)
Over 385,000 residents from Texas have been ordered to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura as forecasters expect the storm to reach Category 3 strength before slamming into land near the Texas-Louisiana border. According to The Associated Press, most of those evacuees came from the areas of Beaumont, Galveston and Port Arthur. On Tuesday morning, local time, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo granted free passage to motorists on the Harris County tollway system in order to encourage speedier evacuations along the Gulf Coast from majorly populated areas such as Houston. Another 200,000 are being told to evacuate low-lying areas of Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, The AP said.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station looked down at the Earth early Tuesday afternoon to see Hurricane Laura churning 250 miles below. The space station did not pass directly over the center of the hurricane, but it was close enough to get a good look at Laura, which is currently a Category 1 storm. The photo below was taken by one of the exterior cameras on the International Space Station.
Hurricane Laura was spotted by the International Space Station early Tuesday afternoon as it flew over the Gulf of Mexico. (NASA)
Hurricane Laura was photographed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday afternoon. (NASA/Chris Cassidy)
As Hurricane Laura has moved over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it's strengthened and is becoming a better-organized system. This is evident on the below satellite loop, which shows the storm's progression from 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday through 1:10 p.m. Weather watchers can track Laura's progress at home using AccuWeather's satellite product to see real-time updates on the storm's position and movement. As of 2 p.m. eastern time, Laura was still packing 75-mph sustained winds and moving west-northwest across the Gulf at 16 mph.
A satellite loop showing Hurricane Laura at category 1 strength around mid-day on August 25, 2020. (NOAA / AccuWeather)
Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are as high as 87 degrees in some places. What does that mean for Hurricane Laura? Plenty of fuel for strengthening, as AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno explains below. He also details why Laura won't meet the same fate Marco, which fizzled, met. Watch:
AccuWeather meteorologists are anticipating Hurricane Laura to enter very warm waters and meet favorable strengthening conditions over the rest of today, including plenty of most, unstable air. Those conditions should help Laura intensify into a major hurricane on Wednesday before it takes a northerly turn on Wednesday night. “Based on this we are projecting Laura to make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border Wednesday night or early Thursday morning as a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said. “Once the storm makes landfall our forecast shows the storm moving northward through Thursday morning then turning gradually to the northeast Thursday afternoon through Friday.”
Even though Laura is still over a day away from making landfall and moving inland over the southern United States, AccuWeather meteorologists expect the storm to make a significant impact in areas farther away from the coast. Flooding rain, damaging winds and tornadoes will be some of the primary impacts from the storm. The storm is expected to remain at tropical storm strength as far north as Arkansas. Forecasters are particularly worried about the tornado danger that Laura could produce. "The high risk area for tornadoes will be to the right side of the system as it moves inland from Louisiana to eastern Arkansas, western Mississippi and perhaps western Tennessee through Friday," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s most recent advisory on Hurricane Laura, the storm system has maintained its maximum sustained wind speed of 75 mph as it continues moving across the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. As it continues to move closer to land, storm surge warnings have been enacted in areas from the Texas coast to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Laura is moving west-northwest at 16 mph and is expected to approach land by the Texas-Louisiana border on Wednesday night.
Residents in Houston haven’t been told they have to evacuate just yet, but officials are telling them to get ready. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo didn’t mince her words in a press conference on Monday, urging citizens to make their preparations now and not overlook any details in their plans, particularly regarding COVID-19 safety precautions in the likelihood of evacuations or extended power outages. "This is not Harvey, this is not Imelda, this is not Allison. This is Laura," Hidalgo said, according to ABC13. "Every storm is different, and we urge folks not to use any prior storm as a template for what or will happen. What we need to do is prepare for the worst."
Thurman Bartie, the mayor of Port Arthur, Texas, ordered the more than 54,000 residents of the city to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura. In addition to the usual evacuation protocols, Bartie's order included requirements related to the coronavirus pandemic, including mandating that evacuees all wear face coverings and any citizens that need help with transportation out of the expected storm zone undergo temperature checks. Bartie did not mince words when discussing the threat posed by the approaching storm and the risk people who ignore the evacuation order might be taking. "If you decide to stay, you're staying on your own," Bartie said, according to NBC2 in Houston. Laura is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 storm near the Texas-Louisiana border. AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell was in Port Arthur, which is on the western side of Sabine Lake about 90 miles east of Houston, on Tuesday morning, and captured video of school buses lined up and waiting to escort residents out of harm's way.
On the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes, Hurricane Laura is rated a 3 on the 1 to 5 scale. The scale is a new method the company introduced in 2019 to better assess the overall potential damage a storm could cause than the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which only factors in wind impacts. The scale is designed to communicate a more comprehensive representation of a storm's potential impact on lives and livelihoods.
Residents in Holly Beach, Louisiana, are preparing for Hurricane Laura by stocking up on boards for windows, gassing up vehicles and gathering essentials. Laura is expected to impact the area just a couple weeks before the 15-year anniversary of Hurricane Rita’s devastation in the same community. On Monday, the Office of Emergency Preparedness in Cameron Parish issued mandatory evacuations for Holly Beach and surrounding areas, according to KLFY.com.
Galveston Mayor Craig Brown signed a mandatory evacuation Tuesday as the rapidly strengthening Laura barrels toward the the Texas coastline. The mandatory evacuation was signed and went into effect at 6 a.m., local time, Tuesday, and the city has urged residents to leave the island by 12 p.m. PDT on Wednesday “with all family members and pets.” The evacuation comes after the storm tracked westward overnight, its intensity heightening. AccuWeather meteorologists are predicting that Laura will make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane, potentially becoming the first major hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. “With the uncertainties of this storm and its increasing strength we need to take all necessary precautions to protect our residents,” Brown said. “It’s imperative that you make plans this morning to secure your homes and move you and your family to safety off island.”
Laura has reached hurricane status, according to NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft data recorded at 7:15 a.m., CDT. With maximum sustained wind speeds of 75 mph, Laura has cleared the threshold of a Category 1 storm en route to what meteorologists expect to be the season's first major hurricane.
Some internet users were looking to have some fun with the former tropical duo by calling for Tropical Storm Laura to be renamed "Polo." A petition on Change.org is calling for the World Meteorological Organization and NOAA to change the name so Marco and Polo can be united "once and for all." "After all, it is 2020," the organizer wrote along with a storm cloud emoji and several hashtags. â #hurricanepolo #teampolo #marcopolo #2020 So far about 4,000 people out of the desired 5,000 have signed the petition. One user who signed the petition wrote, " "Why not make a bad circumstance memorable?," while another said, "We may as well find the humor in 2020!" Getting that change to actually go through is likely easier said than done, however. This year's "P" name on the 2020 Atlantic storm list is locked in on Paulette. Judging by how busy the 2020 season has been thus far, Paulette could be here sooner rather than later. Plus, Marco has since dissipated into a post-tropical cyclone after making landfall on Monday.
Tropical Storm Laura's anticipated strengthening into an eventual Category 3 hurricane is expected to follow a curved path through the Gulf of Mexico and make landfall late Wednesday, although its impacts could be felt much earlier. Laura is forecast to be a 3 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes, a scale that rates tropical systems from less than one and 1 to 5 based on expected impacts.
As of 4 a.m., CDT, Tropical Storm Laura is located just northwest of Cuba as it continues moving west-northwest at 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The continued track and strengthening of Laura has now triggered a Hurricane Watch in east Texas from Port Bolivar to San Luis Pass while a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from the San Luis Pass to Freeport.
AccuWeather meteorologists are now forecasting Laura to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall near the border of Texas and Louisiana on Wednesday evening.
Just hours after weakening to a tropical depression, Marco became post-tropical early on Tuesday morning. The system is expected to dissipate entirely by early Wednesday morning. "Swells and rip currents produced by Marco will continue to subside on Tuesday," the National Hurricane Center said.
Just hours after making landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River, Marco was downgraded to a tropical depression with winds of 35 mph. Some rain is lingering over the southeastern U.S. from Marco, including the risk of tornadoes and waterspouts. “A brief tornado or two remains possible overnight across the Florida Panhandle, southwest Georgia, far southern Alabama, and far southern Mississippi,” the National Hurricane Center said. Marco will continue to weaken as it moves inland into Tuesday.
Companies removed workers from more than 100 offshore oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico due to the impending approach of Marco and Laura. Oil and gas production was slowed as a result of the safety measures, The Associated Press reported, however the impact on production is typically short-lived and shouldn’t raise pump prices. Approximately 114 platforms had been evacuated, the Interior Department said based on company reports. That is 18% of the staffed platforms in the Gulf, but they account for 58% of Gulf oil production and 45% of natural gas output, The Associated Press reported. Over the last few days, Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell also began evacuating some platforms and drilling rigs. Operators in the Gulf often evacuate offshore workers when the forecast shows hurricanes or tropical storms. Thankfully, gasoline inventories are high, and the storms are unlikely to move pump prices unless refineries on land are damaged, Patrick DeHaan, an analyst for GasBuddy, said.
Workers for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority closed the floodgates in Harvey, Louisiana, just outside New Orleans on Monday. “We’re only going to dodge the bullet so many times. And the current forecast for Laura has it focused intently on Louisiana,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a news briefing. State emergencies were declared in Louisiana and Mississippi, and shelters were opened with cots set farther apart.
Closed floodgates in Harvey, Louisiana, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gov. Greg Abbott has deployed teams from the Texas Army, Air National Guards, Military Department and Texas State Guard to assist with the two storms. More than 70 members of these agencies are currently moving to their assigned locations across Texas, the governor announced. Air crews are ready for emergency search and rescues while waiting at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and at the airport in San Antonio. “The State of Texas is mobilizing the Texas Army and Air National Guards, and Texas State Guard to assist local, state, and federal officials as Tropical Storms Marco and Laura approach the Gulf Coast and Southeast Texas,” Abbott said on Twitter. The Texas Military Department has trained specifically for rescue operations during the COVID-19 pandemic and personal protective equipment has been placed where needed. “…As the situation develops, it is imperative that Texans who live on the Gulf Coast and in southeast Texas pay close attention to weather alerts and heed warnings from local officials,” Abbott warned. “Property and belongings can be restored, but lives cannot. I call on all Texans who may be in harm’s way to put their safety and their family’s lives above all else and adhere to the guidance and warnings from emergency management officials.”
Tropical Storm Marco made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River at 6 p.m. CDT on Monday. Although the center of the storm made landfall over Louisiana, a majority of the rain associated with the system is over the Florida Panhandle, southern Alabama and southern Georgia. Marco is barely clinging on to tropical storm status with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and is forecast to be downgraded to a tropical depression on Monday night.
Residents all along the Gulf Coast may be working what exactly they can expect in their neighborhood from Tropical Storm Marco and what is forecast to be Hurricane Laura later this week. AccuWeather’s Local Hurricane Tracker does just that, breaking down every aspect of the storm.. This feature shows the hour-by-hour forecast for both Marco and Laura and can be found on the forecast page for cities and towns all along the Gulf Coast. For example, the worst impacts from Laura in New Orleans is currently projected to occur between 5 p.m. CDT Wednesday and 7 a.m. CDT Thursday.
On Monday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a hurricane watch for part of the coast of Texas and Louisiana centered around the zone where Laura is projected to make landfall. The watch is in effect from Port Bolivar, Texas, to the west of Morgan City, Louisiana. A tropical storm watch has also been issued for areas just outside of the hurricane watch. “A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous,” the NHC said. Residents in this area should begin to prepare now for Laura, which is forecast to make landfall as a hurricane late Wednesday or early Thursday morning.
Rain and thunderstorms associated with Marco are drenching parts of the southeastern U.S. and are bringing the risk of tornadoes. As a result, a tornado watch has been issued for part of the Florida Panhandle, far southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia. This includes Panama City, Florida; Dothan, Alabama; and Albany, Georgia and is in effect until 12 a.m. EDT.
Residents along the central Gulf Coast are taking Marco and Laura seriously and have moved some of their property to higher ground away from the coast. AccuWeather National Weather Reporter Jonathan Petramala drove though St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, on Monday afternoon and saw the mobile units parked miles away from the water due the risk of flooding that is accompanying Marco and Laura. “The one-two punch of Marco and especially Laura had these owners doing what they can to protect their property,” Petramala said. Laura is forecast to be the stronger of the two storms and is projected make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday night.
Marco may soon be downgraded to a tropical depression as it gradually loses strength as it approaches landfall. At 2 a.m. EDT Monday, Marco had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, but 12 hours later, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that the highest sustained winds were 40 mph. If these wind speeds fall to 35 mph, Marco will likely be downgraded to a tropical depression. Even if the storm does get downgraded, people along the coast should not let their guard down. “Gusty winds, heavy rainfall, and lingering coastal flooding are expected from Marco along portions of the Gulf Coast through this evening,” the NHC said early Monday afternoon. The center of Marco is forecast to make landfall in southern Louisiana late Monday afternoon or early Monday night and will tack over southern Louisiana through Tuesday.
AccuWeather meteorologists have been keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Laura as it has made its way over the Caribbean and they now say there's a chance Laura could go through some rapid strengthening over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Dan Kottlowski, AccuWeather's resident hurricane expert, said there's a chance the storm could reach Category 3 force as it moves over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Those waters are very warm -- in some cases as high as 87 degrees Fahrenheit. As Laura approaches the Gulf Coast, the storm could still be Category 2 strength. Check the latest forecast and track map and stay up to date with the developing situation by keeping it here on AccuWeather's live blog.
NHC Director Ken Graham spoke to AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno this morning on the AccuWeather Network to provide an update on Marco and Laura. Graham said parts of the Gulf Coast were already receiving "intense" tropical rainfall well away from the center of disorganized Marco. Graham also discussed the potential for waterspouts to form along the coast. Watch the full interview here.
AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno (left) interview NHC director Ken Graham on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.
Tropical Storm Laura has wreaked havoc as it has tracked across the Caribbean dumping heavy rain on Hispaniola. As many as 12 fatalities have been blamed on Laura as of Monday, but video emerged of an inspiring moment from Sunday as members of the Dominican Republic’s Defensa Civil were seen rescuing a dog from floodwaters. After the dog was safe on dry land, the Defensa Civil posted a photo of the pup on Instagram with a caption that said, according to Storyful, "The rescued dog is now our friend." Watch the video of the rescue here.
Members of the Dominican Republic’s Defensa Civil were seen rescuing a dog from floodwaters after Tropical Storm Laura inundated Hispaniola on Sunday, August 23, 2020. (Defensa Civil DR via Storyful)
Coronavirus testing is canceled across Louisiana on Monday and Tuesday due to severe weather threats coming from Tropical Storm Marco. As it gets closer to landfall, Marco is expected to bring gusty winds, heavy rainfall and a dangerous storm surge along parts of the Gulf Coast during the day on Monday. Nearly 143,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported so far in the state, with 11,000 coming from Orleans County, according to Johns Hopkins University. A storm surge warning is active for parts of Louisiana. Parts of the coast stretching from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle are already feeling Marco’s wrath, with rough surf and windy downpours. Landfall is expected to take place somewhere along Louisiana’s southeastern coast, which could be impacted by Tropical Storm Laura later in the week, as well.
With Marco bearing down and Laura not far behind, residents in Kenner, Louisiana, about 10 miles west of New Orleans, hit the grocery stores on Sunday, cleaning out store shelves as they stocked up on essential items. AccuWeather National Reporter Jonathan Petramala visited a store in Kenner, and shared a short video showing the shelves all but bare as Marco closed in. For those in the New Orleans area, use the AccuWeather Local Tracker to keep real-time tabs on Marco and stay up to date with the latest forecast from AccuWeather meteorologists.
AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno interviewed AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski Monday morning on the AccuWeather Network to discuss the latest developments with tropical storms Marco and Laura. Kottlowski explained how wind shear played a huge role in limiting Marco's strength and also discussed why Laura will have a different set of circumstances to deal with in the Gulf compared to Marco. Watch the full interview below.
Marco continues to unleash heavy rainfall and gusty winds along parts of the Gulf Coast as the 50-mph tropical storm crawls to the north-northwest at 8 mph. The storm was located 55 miles southeast of the Mouth of the Mississippi River as of the National Hurricane Center's 10 a.m. CDT Monday advisory. Tropical storm warnings were discontinued for areas west of Morgan City, located in south-central Louisiana, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. Tropical Storm Warnings are still posted for Morgan City eastward to the Mississippi/Alabama border, as well as Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans. Storm surge warnings are also in effect from Morgan City eastward to Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Tropical Storm Marco churned across the northern Gulf of Mexico on Monday, Aug, 24, 2020, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. (NOAA/AccuWeather)
As Marco moved closer to land on Sunday, eventually becoming a Category 1 hurricane before weakening once again to a tropical storm, one onlooker captured a "massive" waterspout spinning over the Gulf of Mexico. Extreme meteorologist Reed Timmer was in Waveland, Mississippi, Monday morning and said he expects additional waterspouts to be the main threat from the approaching tropical storm. Hear more from Reed in the tweet below.
As Tropical Storm Laura moved over Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, on Sunday, it dumped torrential rains, which caused widespread flooding across both countries. According to AFP, at least 12 fatalities have been blamed on Tropical Storm Laura -- 9 in Haiti and 3 in the Dominican Republic. Video images emerging from Haiti showed the extent of flooding with many streets turned into rivers of raging muddy water and cars stuck in mud and debris. On Monday morning, Laura remained a strong tropical storm with 65-mph sustained winds and was located about 125 miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo, Cuba. Get the latest forecast on where Laura is headed here.
As of the 8 a.m. National Hurricane Center advisory, Tropical Storm Laura was located about 125 miles east-southeast of the Cuban island of Cayo Largo. The storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and moving to the west-northwest at 21 mph.
AccuWeather meteorologists expect the storm to strengthen when it reaches the Gulf of Mexico, and say it could reach Category 2 strength before it makes landfall along the Louisiana coastline later this week.
At its 7 a.m. CDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said that Tropical Storm Marco was located only a mere 85 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm was unleashing heavy rain and strong winds along parts of the northern Gulf Coast, the NHC said, and it will approach the Louisiana coast Monday afternoon. Marco is moving to the northwest at around 10 mph.
The storm continues to weaken, as its maximum sustained winds are now only at around 50 mph, down from 60 mph at the 4 a.m. CDT advisory. AccuWeather meteorologists expect Marco to weaken to a tropical depression on Tuesday near the Texas/Louisiana border.
Tropical Storm Marco seen on radar early on Aug. 24, 2020. (Image/AccuWeather)
Tropical Storm Warnings were issued early Monday morning for the middle and lower Florida Keys from Craig Key westward to Key West in Florida as Laura continues moving towards to the Gulf. As of 5 a.m., EDT, the storm is moving west-northwest at 21 mph with maximum sustained winds at 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Along its course toward the U.S., Tropical Storm Laura has unleashed damaging and deadly impacts across the northern Caribbean. At least nine deaths have been attributed to Laura, three of which occurred in the Dominican Republic and five in Haiti. Among the fatalities include a 7-year-old boy and his mother who were in their home in the Dominican Republic's capitol of Santo Domingo when a wall collapsed on top of them.
Hurricane Marco was downgraded to a tropical storm on Sunday night, about 185 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. As of 11 p.m. CDT, the storm was packing winds of 70 mph and traveling north-northwest at 12 mph. As a result, the Hurricane Watch from Intracoastal City to west of Morgan City has been canceled.
"Even with the storm losing some wind intensity, residents across the region should not let their guard down as Marco remains a strong tropical storm packing flooding downpours and high winds," AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff said.
Tropical Storm Laura strengthened slightly on Sunday night about 125 miles southeast of Camaguey, Cuba. Eastern Cuba and Jamaica are being hit with heavy rains as the storm moves west-northwest at 21 mph, packing 65 mph winds.
Government officials have discontinued a Tropical Storm Warning for all of Haiti as of 11 p.m. EDT.
Hurricane Marco is now expected to near the coast of Louisiana on Monday, bringing a life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-strength winds with it.
In preparation, a Tropical Storm Warning has been issued from Cameron to just west of Morgan City, Louisiana, and a Storm Surge Watch is in effect from Sabine Pass to Morgan City, Louisiana, and from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to the Mississippi and Alabama border. Storm Surge Watches are also in effect for Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas.
Tropical Storm Laura is now located over Eastern Cuba, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center. Laura is traveling north-northwest at a speed of 21 mph, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 60 mph.
Officials in The Bahamas have discontinued their Tropical Storm Warning that was initially issued for Inagua and the Ragged Islands in the southeastern Bahamas.
President Donald Trump approved of emergency declarations in Louisiana and Puerto Rico in regard to Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura. During a news conference, Trump said his administration is monitoring both tropical developments closely as they trek toward the U.S.
Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome signed into effect a parish-wide emergency disaster declaration as the threat of Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura looms. This situation is fluid, and of course, our community is still mitigating the coronavirus pandemic. This is an unusual, and historic, event, and we need residents to take preparations seriously," she said.
Louisiana State University's Office of Emergency Preparedness released a message on Sunday afternoon announcing that classes will be canceled on Monday, Aug. 24 due to Hurricane Marco. Residence halls and other on-campus housing will remain opened for students, however classes and other activities are canceled. Information on whether classes will resume on Tuesday will be announced at 2 p.m. CDT on Monday. The announcement said that students living on-campus will have access to meals during this time.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for 23 counties in the state on Sunday, including all 22 costal surge counties. Bexar County is also included in the state of disaster for sheltering purposes. The declaration comes ahead of Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura making landfall. Abbott also requested President Donald Trump declare Marco and Laura a Federal state of emergency for the 23 Texas counties.
Hurricane Marco is crossing the central Gulf while Tropical Storm Laura brings heavy rainfall and life-threatening flash flooding over portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Reports say 1,050 have been evacuated, 129 people are in shelter and 14 communities have been cut off by Laura’s downpours in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Hurricane Marco (left) and Tropical Storm Laura (right) gaining strength as they head toward the U.S. on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. (Image via GOES-East NOAA satellite)
Marco has officially upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, according to data from the Air Force Hurricane Hunters. Maximum winds are 75 mph with higher gusts.
There is a risk of flash flooding from heavy rainfall across southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and southern Alabama on Monday and Tuesday from Marco according to the National Weather Service.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne, where 4 to 6 feet of inundation above ground level could occur due to Marco.
Tropical Storm Marco is still on the cusp of becoming a hurricane. Marco is about 325 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River with wind speeds of 70 mph moving to the west-northwest at 14 mph.
Tropical Storm Laura is about 95 miles from the eastern tip of Cuba, with wind speeds of 50 mph moving to the west-northwest at 21 mph.
Marco is approaching hurricane strength as it moves north of the Yucatan and Cuba. Wind shear still remains over Marco, but this will be weakening over the next few hours as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico. This decreased wind shear is expected to allow Marco to become a hurricane on Sunday.
A Storm Surge Warning and a Hurricane Warning are in effect for Morgan City, Louisiana.
As Marco pushes northward over the Gulf of Mexico, landfall is expected as early as Monday midday and as late as Monday evening. As Marco makes landfall over southeast Louisiana, the storm may remain a hurricane for several hours as it moves over the bayous of Louisiana.
The National Hurricane Center reports portions of the U.S. Gulf coast will likely experience a prolonged period of hazardous weather this week. Wind gusts from Marco are powerful enough to bring down trees and power lines and cause damage to weaker structures.
Currently, Laura is bringing torrential rain to parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic as the storm is about 95 miles east of Port Au Prince, Haiti. Tropical Storm Marco continues to gain strength as it continues to cross into the Gulf of Mexico. Both Laura and Marco continue to track away from central Florida and into the Gulf.
Continental US - Longwave Window - IR
Tropical Storm Laura is about 40 miles from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with wind speeds of 45 mph moving to the west-northwest at 18 mph.
Tropical storm watches and warnings are in effect from Hispaniola to Cuba, the Florida Keys and the central Bahamas. "Laura Bringing Torrential Rainfall and Life-Threatening Flooding To the Dominican Republic and Haiti," The National Hurricane Center tweeted.
Marco is just shy of Category 1 hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and is moving to the north-northwest at 13 mph. Hurricane and storm surge warnings have been issued for portions of the northern Gulf Coast.
On Saturday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced the state could begin experiencing the effects of Tropical Storm Marco as early as Sunday. "We are in unprecedented times," Reeves said. "We are dealing with not only two potential storms in the next few [days,] we are also dealing with COVID-19." The governor advised people to find places to evacuate other than public shelters.
Marco is approaching Category 1 hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and is moving to the north-northwest at 13 mph.
Laura has wind speeds of 45 mph while centered over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic, and was moving to the west-northwest at 18 mph.
Top StoriesMore Stories