The current track takes Hurricane Laura into Port Arthur and the upper Gulf Coast late tonight or early Thursday morning. As Laura moves inland and farther north, North Texas will receive beneficial rain. The best chance for heavy rain will be Northeast Texas. The main threat is gusty winds produced by outflow boundaries. Since tropical systems bring heavy rain, we will have to be on guard for possible flooding. Some locations could receive as much as 6 inches of rain.
Authorities ordered more than half a million people to evacuate the Texas and Louisiana coasts ahead of Hurricane Laura. It is the most massive U.S. evacuation of the pandemic. Forecasters expect Laura to grow to a major Category 3 hurricane before hitting the U.S. coastline late this evening or early Thursday. The National Hurricane Center warns of potentially devastating damage. Laura has already killed two dozen people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Laura erupted into a hurricane early Tuesday morning as the storm moved away from Cuba and over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. AccuWeather forecasters expect the storm to strengthen as it charges toward the Gulf Coast rapidly. When Laura makes landfall later Wednesday night, it could be a Category 3 hurricane, the first of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
Laura was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday morning and forecasted to reach major hurricane status as at least a Category 3 before landfall. The storm has maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph. As of early Wednesday morning, Laura was moving northwest at 15 mph and was about 335 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas, and 315 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center. The system had rapidly intensified to a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph.
The storm is rated a three on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes, 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.