The intensity forecast for Laura has increased, now expected to be a category 3 storm at landfall, the update coming in with the 7:00 a.m. bulletin from the National Hurricane Center.
Landfall is still expected in southwest Louisiana overnight Wednesday into Thursday with sustained winds around 115 mph at the time it comes ashore.
Laura is still a tropical storm but that is expected to change today as it is now away from the islands and getting out into the warm Gulf of Mexico.
Forecast models had been trending to a stronger storm for the last few days which builds a little confidence in the forecast, however, this doesn't significantly change the impacts Acadiana is facing as we were already anticipating a strong hurricane.
Now that T.S. Laura is over water and away from the islands we should start to see better model agreement from run to run as there are less variables for the computers to account.
The earliest impacts from the storm will start to arrive by mid day on Wednesday, tropical storm force winds will begin to move into coastal Acadiana and water along the coast will start to come up.
This means that preparation for the arrival of Laura needs to be completed by the end of the day on Tuesday as weather will deteriorate through the day on Wednesday and you need to be in the place you plan to ride out the storm.
Remember once the major impacts begin to arrive it won't be safe to be out traveling especially since it will be an overnight system hazards will be difficult if not impossible to see, and that problem is magnified by expected widespread power outages.
The storm surge threat from Laura is shaping up to be significant with Acadiana's coastline expected to see a storm surge on the magnitude of 7-11 feet, with inundation in southwest Louisiana capable of reaching close to the I-10 corridor.
This has the ability to back up rivers and streams up to 30 miles inland so even if you're in north Acadiana the rivers and bayous will be running full, if you live close to the coastline I would urge you to consider leaving.
Keep in mind particularly along the immediate coast that it won't be just the water coming up but on top of that intense waves will add to the potential damage posed by the rising seas.
Flash flooding is also expected to be an issue with Laura as Acadiana should brace for 6-12" of rain with locally higher amounts in isolated cases.
This could lead to inland flooding as the rain will arrive quickly, there is a sliver of a silver lining in the fact that this storm will move in and out quickly which will help with the flash flooding.
Regardless this amount of rainfall coupled with significant flooding along the coastline means that rivers could get backed up so expect water levels along the bayous and rivers to be very high.
Winds along the eye-wall will be extreme with gusts pushing 130 mph and sustained winds around 115 mph.
The winds will get worse the further west you go and western Acadiana will be looking at sustained winds around 60-80 mph with gusts close to 105, central Acadiana is likely to see 40-60 Acadiana with gusts approaching 100 mph, and eastern Acadiana will see winds closer to 30-40 with gusts around 60 mph.
Those numbers can change as they are largely dependent on the forecast track, but either way I would expect power outages, trees down, damages to roofs and even structures (particularly the further west you go).
The worst of the weather is expected late Wednesday night but some of the early rain bands will be sitting just offshore by mid day on Wednesday so we will start to get early impacts arriving Wednesday afternoon.
Heavy showers and strong winds will continue into early Thursday morning and by Thursday mid day the threat will shift to one of flash flooding as we struggle to shake off the intense rainfall.
Again this is a fast moving storm which means that by Thursday night the weather will be behind us and we can get a sense of what type of clean up we'll be facing.
Preparation for the storm needs to be wrapped up by Tuesday night and luckily the weather for Tuesday should be mostly cooperative, outside of some scattered showers.
We were able to dodge Marco, which is no longer a tropical system, although it will still produce a few rounds of heavy showers scattered through out the day.
As moisture increases so does the heat index so it's going to be a hot one out there with a heat index close to 100, even with mostly cloudy skies.
I know that this is a very intense forecast and many are feeling, rightfully so, anxious about the storm, but remember even with a scary outlook many of us have been here before.
Preparedness can go a long way to helping get through these systems, that's why I always say be prepared not panicked, and I know that we can get through this.
Please heed all orders from emergency officials and make sure that you are staying up to date on the current forecast, and we'll have all that information on KATC.
Remember all of us at KATC are in this with you.
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