Tropical Storm Laura has now been upgraded to a hurricane and is forecast to reach a Category 3. According to weather experts, this could cause some extensive damage along the Gulf Coast. "The main point is that we’re going to have a significant hurricane make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday," said National Hurricane Center Deputy Director Ed Rappaport, as quoted by the AP.
Rappaport went on to explain, "The waters are warm enough everywhere there to support a major hurricane, Category 3 or even higher. The waters are very warm where the storm is now and will be for the entire path up until the Gulf Coast." Sadly, there have already been a number of casualties of Laura's massive winds and flooding. The storm killed 20 people in Haiti and three people in the Dominican Republic. It knocked out power in most of the areas it has hit and has caused significant storm surge. "We’re talking about something that’s on the order of 10 feet and that’s going to penetrate well inland," Rappaport said.
Here are some some recent satellite images of strengthening Hurricane #Laura over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. The next forecast update will be at 10 AM CDT. Follow @NHC_Atlantic for the latest forecast information and on the web at https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB. pic.twitter.com/J5D7GI3gLn— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 25, 2020
At this time, Hurricane Laura is projected to hit Western Louisiana and parts of Eastern Texas. A CNN projection map showed it hitting Galveston and Beaumont, Texas, but narrowly missing Houston. Over in Louisiana, it may miss Lafayette, but will eventually hit Shreveport — in the Northern part of the state — after losing a lot of its strength. "With the uncertainties of this story and its increasing strength, we need to take all necessary precautions to protect our residents," Galveston Mayor Craig Brown stated in a press release.
CNN also reports that a mandatory evacuation order has been issued for all residents of Jefferson County, Texas. Conversely, Orange County, Texas, has only recommended a voluntary evacuation for its citizens. Understandably, most state leaders are very concerned about the rainfall and storm surge that Laura will bring. "There will be storm surge impact, there will be wind impact, there will be rain impact," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
While Laura has grown into a more concerning system, another tropical storm was recently downgraded. Tropical Storm Marco, which made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River on Monday, was soon downgraded to a tropical depression. It is expected to move out into the open waters and fizzle out.