Monday, August 24, 2020

(Hurricane) Laura: Update at 12:10am Tuesday

I have updated information on now Hurricane Laura at the top of the blog.

-- original posting below --

I have reviewed the data and computer models available as of 11:55pm CDT. Laura is already strengthening faster than some of the models forecast to occur. That said, I believe what is outlined below adequately outlines the situation. I will update later this morning. 

This was originally posted at 6:30pm Monday. I have updated it as of 8:30pm Monday.

This is a comprehensive update on the hazards presented by now Tropical Storm Laura. It should become a hurricane late tonight or Tuesday morning. If you live in east Texas and Louisiana, please review it in its entirety. If you have friends or relatives in this area, please make them aware of this update.

Headlines:
  • Hurricane Watch from Fort Morgan, Louisiana, to Port Bolivar, Texas. This includes Galveston-Beaumont (see below). If I lived in Harris or Galveston counties, I would consider hurricane force winds to be a possibility. 
  • Tropical Storm Watch (winds 40 to 74 mph) in orange. Remember: 60+ mph winds are sufficient to cause power failures. This officially includes Houston.
  • Dangerous Storm Surge Watch from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to San Luis Pass, Texas (not shown). 
  • Laura's 11:20pm stats: Winds 65 mph and pressure 990 millibars, with the pressure dropping rapidly. That is a sign it will be a hurricane soon.  Moving WNW 20 mph.
  • Mandatory Evacuation for the Triangle area of far SE Texas as of 7am. 
Click to enlarge
Wind and Storm Surge Forecast:
  • My forecast is that Laura will have at least Category 3 winds at landfall. It is too soon to say exactly where landfall will be in the red highlighted counties (above). A Cat 4 or even 5 storm is being shown by some of the models. That doesn't mean Laura will reach that intensity but it is possible. At these wind speeds, structural damage and extensive power failures are likely.
  • Peak storm surge for a Cat 3 will be at least 8 to 12 feet. Remember that does not include waves or astronomical tides. This is life-threatening.
  • Tornadoes are possible along and to the northeast of the path of the eye of the storm.
  • Wind gusts to 70 mph, with likely power failures, are possible 150 miles inland. There is a slight chance they could occur even farther inland. 
Here is a storm surge forecast from NHC.
Below, I have posted photos from Hurricane Ike to give you an idea of the type of damage done by a 3 (I am not saying Laura will hit the same area, we don't know yet).
Chron.com. Damage from Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike damage, Bolivar Peninsula. This is the type of
damage that can be done by the storm surge of a 3 to a
barrier island.
Time of Arrival (in EDT) of 40 mph or stronger sustained winds.

Rainfall and Flooding Forecast:
While this could shift east or west a bit, there will be enough heavy rain with Laura to cause flooding.
More than seven inches (amber inside of the orange) is forecasted in scattered locations. Fortunately, recent rainfall has not been heavy. Here is the flood outlook.

Important Safety Recommendations
If you or your friends/relatives live in the hurricane warning counties, please consider:
  • Make a hotel/motel reservation well inland. There is no point to getting on the road and finding everything already sold out. Be sure and cancel if you do not need the room.
  • Make provisions for infirm friends/relatives well in advance. 
  • Get prescriptions filled before you evacuate. 
  • Put an app like AccuWeather's on your smartphone. It will keep track of your location and automatically provide the latest emergency warnings. 
  • Your "Go-Kit" should include at least two masks per person, soap, hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and, if available, disinfectant spray. Have clothes for at least a week. No one cares how stylish you are. 
  • Fill your car with fuel. I still recommend a road atlas or map in addition to whatever navigation system you might have. 
  • Power failures are likely. If you have a generator, fill it with fuel. If you wish to purchase a portable generator, do not put it in the garage, indoors, or anywhere near an air intake. Carbon monoxide is a danger. 
  • Consider taking your passport or putting it in your safe deposit box. If the worst happens, you'll need it to prove identity for disaster documents. It will be difficult to recover in a ruined home.
  • Take at least two large bottles of water for each family member along with protein bars or other easy-to-carry food. 
  • If you decide to stay home, make sure you have a working fire extinguisher, non-electric can opener, and a first aid kit. 
  • Put your insurance documents in your safe deposit box or take them with you. This will facilitate filing a claim if you have serious property damage. 

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