(NCNN WeatherCenter)–Tropical Storm Laura became a hurricane Tuesday morning and is expected to make landfall along the Louisiana or Texas coast by Thursday morning as a strong Category 2 or a Category 3 hurricane.
NCNN meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said the latest projections from the National Hurricane Center show Laura making landfall halfway between New Orleans and Houston somewhere along the Texas-Louisiana line.
Laura is likely to make landfall overnight Wednesday or early Thursday morning with strong 115 mph winds.
Gardner said 4 to 8 inches of rain are likely, with 12 inches possible. The main danger, though, will be an estimated storm surge of 7 to 11 feet.
“In Louisiana, so much of that coast is at sea level – it’s flat – so it’s going to be devastating for them,” Gardner said.
North Carolina won’t be impacted by Laura apart from some rain coming our way next weekend, she said.
Marco is gone.
The storm named Marco, which made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River on Monday night, has started to dissipate. Since its winds and rain mainly blew to the northeast, Louisiana was not impacted as originally predicted.
Florida saw the bulk of the impacts from Marco, Gardner said.
Why is Laura is gaining strength over the Gulf?
Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are warm, with temperatures in the mid-80s, which will likely cause Laura to strengthen as it gets closer to the U.S.
“Warm sea surface temperatures really help these storms fuel and intensify,” NCNN’s Peta Sheerwood said.
This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has been busy, with record-setting storms. Tropical Storm Marco was the earliest named M storm in recorded history, according to NCNN meteorologist Mike Maze.
If all the names on the list of 2020 storm names are used before hurricane season ends, meteorologists will use Greek letters to refer to the storms.
Peak hurricane season runs from mid-August to late October, and hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30. Gardner said very warm ocean temperatures are contributing to the active hurricane season.