A map of Louisiana provided by the National Hurricane Center shows Hurricane Laura's projected path.
As of 8:16 a.m. Eastern Time, Laura -- the 13th named tropical storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, and the 3rd hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center -- had reached Category 3 strength, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, according to CNN. It could be upgraded to a Category 4 by Thursday. The storm is expected to bring "life-threatening" storm surges and dangerous waves, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is expected to make landfall in the region near the Texas-Louisiana border. Potentially catastrophic damage is predicted for the area between San Luis Pass, Texas, on eastward to the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. The storm surge could potentially make its way as far as 30 miles inland. Combined with rainfall from the storm, and widespread flash flooding along roadways, streams, and in certain urban areas could occur as far north as parts of Arkansas. Remnants of the storm are expected to bring rainfall as far north as the Ohio Valley, to include parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.
The GFS Model Predicts That Laura Will Either Dissipate Or Merge With An Existing System Further NorthThe Global Forecast System (GFS) is a global numerical computer model run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Jacksonville, Florida WJAX-TV meteorologist Mike Buresh said that this model predicts that the storm will move generally northward across the Texas-Louisiana border region and then turn sharply eastward as it reaches the area around the Missouri-Arkansas border.
From there, one of two things will happen.
"Of great interest is what happens once Laura is inland... The GFS model is faster to either dissipate the storm or at least merge it with an upper level trough & secondary surface low far to the north near the Great Lakes," he said.
The Euro Model Predicts That Laura Will Track All The Way Back Out Into The AtlanticThe European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, colloquially referred to as the "Euro model," predicts a slightly different path for the storm. Specifically, it's expected to make landfall slightly west of the GFS model's prediction, putting it deeper into Texas. Further, according to Buresh, it's expected to remain its own storm as it tracks eastward across the U.S., all the way back out into the Atlantic Ocean again, near Virginia's Chesapeake Bay.
"Such a track would imply severe weather - wind/rain/tornadoes - all along the track from Arkansas to the east coast with possible redevelopment of a tropical cyclone once offshore of the Mid Atlantic states over the Western Atlantic while moving away from the U.S. over the NW Atlantic," he said.
Several Louisiana Cities Are Expected To Feel Laura's WrathLaura's path is far enough west that it's not expected to bring the worst of its effects to New Orleans, Louisiana's largest city which was itself devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
However, other Louisiana cities, large and small, are squarely in the path of the storm or its outlying edges. Those include Lake Charles and Shreveport, as well as the smaller cities of Alexandria and Monroe.