Tropical Storm Laura is moving away from Cuba in the Southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Laura will take a general northwest path through the Gulf of Mexico before turning toward the north Wednesday. The combination of warm water and low vertical wind shear should allow Laura to become a hurricane later today and strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall Wednesday night near the Texas/Louisiana border.
Once inland, Laura will begin to lose wind intensity while moving into Arkansas, Thursday night. Laura will then turn toward the east and drive through Southern Kentucky or Northern Tennessee, likely as a tropical rainstorm, later Friday and Friday night. Laura will continue to move eastward and move off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina later this weekend.
Heavy rain and gusty winds will continue to impact far western Cuba this morning. Wind gusts of 50-60 mph with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ wind gust of 70 mph can occur near the path of Laura. These winds will be capable of producing power outages and some minor damage to weak structures and trees.
In addition to the wind, 4-8 inches of rain with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 12 inches will fall, resulting in some flooding, especially over the higher elevations and low-lying poor-drainage areas. Due to rain and wind impacts, Laura will be a one on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes in Cuba.
As Laura approaches coastal Louisiana, water rising ahead of the storm will create a dangerous storm surge that could top near or above 10 feet along and to the east of where Laura makes landfall. Damaging hurricane-force winds and flooding rainfall are to be expected ahead of and during landfall. The most massive rainfall totals will be close to the path of the center of circulation. It will locate over far Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana, where sums of 4-8 inches and an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 12 inches can fall.
Damaging winds are also likely with Laura as it moves inland. There will be wind gusts between 80 and 100 mph and an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ wind gust of 130 mph from Laura as the storm makes landfall on the Louisiana coast. Given the wind and rain impacts, Laura will be a three on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes in the United States.
Residents and interests in the Northwestern Gulf Coast states, especially Southeastern Texas and Louisiana, need to prepare for significant impacts from Laura. Flooding in some areas may last for days, and many areas could be without power for multiple days. It would be best if you finalized all preparations today.
The rest of the Atlantic basin remains relatively quiet at this time. However, a strong tropical wave moving off the west coast of Africa Wednesday and Thursday has some potential for tropical development this coming weekend over the south-central North Atlantic.