Hurricane Laura is headed toward the coast of the United States, but will the storm hit Lafayette, Louisiana? The latest projected path indicates the hurricane will not pass directly over the parish, but the area will experience tropical storm conditions, according to the National Weather Service. The weather event will affect the coast from Texas' San Luis Pass to the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Lafayette is under a tropical storm warning, which is a result of Laura, and the hurricane is rapidly intensifying. Officials expect it to strengthen to a Category 4 as it makes landfall in the U.S. The parish issued an emergency order with a curfew to residents, which the Lafayette Consolidated Government relayed on Facebook. It also urged inhabitants to create a basic disaster supply kit.
"Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory has imposed a curfew for all public places within Lafayette Parish during the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., effective at 8:00 p.m. on August 26, 2020, and continuing until 6:00 a.m. on August 27, 2020."
There is no surge flooding predicted. However, the region is under a flash flood warning with rainfall peaks expected to be from three to six inches with higher amounts locally, according to KADN Fox 15. Authorities warn there is a potential for significant flooding from rainfall, which will begin Wednesday evening and continue into Thursday morning. Rivers and tributaries may rapidly overflow their banks, and people are urged not to drive through floodwaters because the streets and bridges below may be washed out.
Authorities stated any efforts to protect life and property should be completed by this time. They've also warned citizens to take heed of warnings and consider protective actions, especially in areas that are prone to flooding. Places as far inland as the I-10 corridor of southwest Louisiana may experience catastrophic damage.
Chief Meteorologist Rob Perillo at KATC warned that the currently predicted crest for the Vermilion River is 13.1 feet, but noted it could go higher because increased floods nearer the gulf will keep it from draining quickly.
The current peak wind forecast is 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph, expected to hit Wednesday night. However, there is the potential for gales greater than 110 mph. The forecast is increased from previous predictions, and citizens are warned to prepare for Category 3 hurricane winds or more powerful. There could be catastrophic damage, including uprooted trees, fences, and road signs. Mobile homes may be destroyed, and authorities ask that people in the affected areas move to a safe shelter ahead of Laura's landfall.
According to Perillo, the situation may be worse than what the region experienced with Rita in 2005.
"Tomorrow's sunrise will be a very different one for many in W'rn LA. #Laura w/125mph winds expected to be a Cat 4/145mph sustained winds & gusts potentially higher. Cameron, Holly Beach to Lake Charles will see a catastrophic storm surge & wind likely worse than Rita...#LAwx," tweeted the meteorologist.