Louisiana, Texas Prepare for Dangerous Winds and Storm Surges As Hurricane Laura Rapidly Approaches

Storm clouds in Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane and is expected to continue intensifying into a Category 4 ahead of its predicted landfall Wednesday evening or Thursday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane was rapidly strengthening with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph with even higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center forecast, and is expected to make landfall in northern Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts. The storm, which is very large with hurricane-force winds extending up to 70 miles outwards, was moving northwest through the Gulf of Mexico at about 15 mph.

Storm clouds in Texas

While Hurricane Laura is expected to strengthen further into a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, it is predicted to rapidly weaken after it makes landfall.

Dangerous storm surges of 10 to 15 feet are also possible along the coast between the Texas and Louisiana borders, especially if the peak surge occurs during high tide.

Heavy rainfall is also predicted from Wednesday afternoon through Friday with five to 10 inches expected along with isolated areas of up to 15 inches on the northwestern Gulf Coast from western Louisiana to far eastern Texas and large parts of Arkansas, according to the NHC. Tornadoes remain a threat Wednesday evening in Louisiana, far southeast Texas, and southwestern Mississippi.

Hurricane Laura is expected to track east, largely sparing the busy Houston metro area, according to The Weather Channel.

Several major airlines have issued travel waivers for the storm, including Delta Air Lines, which capped fares and instructed nine airports along the Gulf Coast to offer travel flexibility. United Airlines waived change fees and fare differences for flights from nine area airports with an original travel date of Aug. 26 or Aug. 27, JetBlue did the same for flights to and from Houston and New Orleans, and Southwest warned flights could be disrupted through Aug. 27 to and from New Orleans and Houston.

Hurricane Laura first formed as a tropical depression in the Atlantic last Wednesday before strengthening to a tropical storm on Friday. It is the earliest Atlantic storm with an “L” name on record, according to TWC.

Louisiana avoided a double disaster as a second storm, Post-Tropical Cyclone Marco, was forecast to dissipate just off the coast, the NHC noted.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram. 

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