7:00AM CDT 28 August 2020 Update
Laura made landfall in Cameron around 1AM on August 27th as a cat 4, shear was impacting it as it made landfall, so it was a hurricane weakening at landfall, however, it had built up quite quickly before it reached the peak only several hours before landfall. Storm surge along the coast seemed to be 9-13 feet near Cameron, and a bit higher just east of Cameron (Creole) in the area of the eyewall that had straight north winds, in that section (mostly unpopulated, the surge reached over 15ft) highest recorded was near Grand Chenieer around 15ft..
The storm rapidly weakened once over land, and brought a lot of water and wind damage through Lake Charles and some north, it will be a bit before the damage extent is well known because of how much was knocked out in the area. It was significant in spots. Unlike Michael, the last major hurricane to strike the US, this one had reached its peak before landfall. Michael was still ramping up at landfall so the inland impacts were further in. Laura still did have a good impact inland as well, but it dropped off much more quickly.
The recovery effort in and well around Lake Charles is going to take some time, and many areas within the region probably have been changed forever. Towns such as Cameron, and Holly Beach, may never be the same after it. A lot of those were hit by Rita, and this was more powerful than Rita. Some of the newer structures were built better/higher after Rita, but even some of those did not survive Laura. The impact west of the landfall point fell off much more quickly.
12:40AM CDT 27 August 2020 Update
Laura is making landfall. There are academic arguments that it is now borderline Cat 5. The damage and surge is becoming extreme, and many lives may be lost over the next several days.
1PM CDT 26 August 2020 Update
Laura is now a category 4 hurricane headed to the TX/LA border.
11AM CDT 26 August 2020 Update
Key messages for Laura
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.
This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline. Only a few hours remain to protect life and property and all actions should be rushed to completion.
2. Hurricane-force winds are expected tonight in portions of the hurricane warning area from San Luis Pass, Texas, to west of Morgan City, Louisiana, with catastrophic wind damage expected where Lauras eyewall makes landfall. Hurricane-force winds and widespread damaging wind gusts will spread well inland across portions of eastern Texas and western Louisiana early Thursday.
3. Widespread flash flooding along small streams, urban areas, and roadways is expected to begin this afternoon into Thursday from far eastern Texas, across Louisiana and Arkansas. This will also lead to minor to isolated moderate freshwater river flooding. The heavy rainfall threat and localized flash and urban flooding potential will spread northeastward into the middle-Mississippi, lower Ohio and Tennessee Valleys Friday night and Saturday.
6AM CDT 26 August 2020 Update
Hurricane Laura is now a Major Category 3 Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, and is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 storm near the Texas/Louisiana border overnight. Laura is a fast moving hurricane, so effects may be felt way inland on the track as well.
Laura is a large system and storm surge will be extremely high in some places near and to the east of the point of landfall. Any preparations in the warning area, particularly near the TX/LA border, need to be finished soon, as conditions will start to deteriorate this afternoon.
Beyond landfall, the fast movement likely will cause significant damage in Arkansas, and more spotty or narrower damage throughout parts of TN, KY, VA, NC, and WV as it moves rapidly toward the east. It'll be much weaker by then, but probably still chaotic enough to spawn tornadoes and wind damage all the way over.
Above: Tiny-eyed Cat 2 Hurricane Laura undergoing Rapid Intensification Predawn Aug 26, 2020
Predawn on the day Laura is to begin her landfall approach along the northwest Gulf of Mexico and Rapid Intensification is underway. Hurricane Laura is now, already, a 105 MPH Cat 2 hurricane as of 1AM CDT Wednesday August, 26, and the risk of additional strengthening will continue all the way up to and possibly into landfall. Thus while NHC is now explicitly forecasting Laura to become a large and very dangerous Cat 3 Major Hurricane before landfall, it is not at all out of the question that she bests that by at least one more category, and preparations for life-threatening impacts and catastrophic damage should be rushed to completion.
Hurricane Laura is in a rare league of tropical cyclones to affect the United States. Retired tropical cyclones are often remembered for decades to come for having one particularly horrendous Feature: Michael - first US Cat 5 landfall since Andrew in 1992, Event: Katrina - NOLA flooding, or Outcome: Harvey - historic, widespread southeast Texas flooding.
This is not to say that there weren't countless other awesome things associated with each of them, but if you were to ask 100 people on the street what they think of most when they think of a certain retired storm, the answers often bring up one horrendous feature, event, or outcome.
Laura may leave one such indelible image in the form of storm surge. Laura's storm surge could travel 30 miles inland from the coastline in far southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana, and may reach more than one full story high above normally dry ground in places.
But this is not to take away from the other hazards Laura will unleash: Tornado-intensity winds, numerous actual waterspouts and inland tornadoes, inland flooding, etc.
The forecast track reasoning from NHC remains about the same. Laura is expected to make landfall somewhere between the upper Texas coast - now probably to the right of Galveston, and western Louisiana - most probably west of New Iberia. Internal changes resulting in wobbles, or some zig-zagging as steering currents compete, could make the ultimate center of landfall uncertain, but potentially catastrophic impacts will occur up to many tens of miles from the very center, regardless.
Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 26th day of the month at 10:18Z
Agency: United States Air Force
Aircraft: Lockheed WC-130J Hercules with reg. number AF96-5301
Storm Number & Year: 13 in 2020
Storm Name: Laura (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 21
Observation Number: 06
A. Time of Center Fix: 26th day of the month at 9:59:10Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 26.11N 91.05W
B. Center Fix Location: 274 statute miles (441 km) to the SSW (193°) from New Orleans, LA, USA.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 2,838m (9,311ft) at 700mb
D. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 969mb (28.62 inHg)
E. Dropsonde Surface Wind at Center: From 115° at 3kts (From the ESE at 3mph)
F. Eye Character: Closed
G. Eye Shape: Elliptical (oval shaped)
G. Orientation of Major Axis in Elliptical Eye: 360° to 180° (N to S)
G. Length of Major Axis in Elliptical Eye: 36 nautical miles (41 statute miles)
G. Length of Minor Axis in Elliptical Eye: 25 nautical miles (29 statute miles)
H. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind Inbound: 95kts (109.3mph)
I. Location & Time of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind Inbound: 19 nautical miles (22 statute miles) to the NE (41°) of center fix at 9:53:30Z
J. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 130° at 104kts (From the SE at 119.7mph)
K. Location & Time of the Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 26 nautical miles (30 statute miles) to the NE (43°) of center fix at 9:51:30Z
L. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind Outbound: 65kts (74.8mph)
M. Location & Time of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind Outbound: 15 nautical miles (17 statute miles) to the SW (221°) of center fix at 10:03:30Z
N. Maximum Flight Level Wind Outbound: From 317° at 77kts (From the NW at 88.6mph)
O. Location & Time of the Maximum Flight Level Wind Outbound: 11 nautical miles (13 statute miles) to the SW (218°) of center fix at 10:02:30Z
P. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 12°C (54°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,066m (10,059ft)
Q. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 14°C (57°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,050m (10,007ft)
R. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 12°C (54°F)
R. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
S. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
S. Fix Levels (surface & flight level centers within 5nm of each other): Surface and 700mb
T. Navigational Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
T. Meteorological Accuracy: 2 nautical miles
Remarks Section: Maximum Flight Level Wind: 104kts (~ 119.7mph) which was observed 26 nautical miles (30 statute miles) to the NE (43°) from the flight level center at 9:51:30Z
122 knot flight level winds in the last pass, it's making a run for Cat 4 soon.
Looks like a ~14 mb pressure drop the last 3 hours. Not what you want to see right now.