By TIFFINI THEISEN
AUG 26, 2020 AT 5:56 AM
Fox 35 meteorologist Jayme King gives the tropical update for Wednesday morning, August 26, 2020.
Hurricane Laura continues strengthening Wednesday morning as it moves over the central Gulf of Mexico on a crash course to impact the Gulf Coast this week as 2020′s first major hurricane bringing massive storm surge to communities.
Laura, which grew overnight to a Category 2 storm, is forecast to produce a life-threatening storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding over eastern Texas and Louisiana later Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. Wednesday advisory.
“Laura is forecast to become a category 4 hurricane today, and is expected to be a major hurricane at landfall. Rapid weakening is expected after Laura makes landfall,” the National Hurricane Center said.
Meanwhile, the storm formerly known as Hurricane Marco fell apart Tuesday morning and devolved into a remnant low before the hurricane center stopped tracking it.
As of 5 a.m., Laura was a strong Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph sustained winds moving northwest at 15 mph and located about 315 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Hurricane-force winds extend out 70 miles with tropical-storm-force winds out 175 miles.
More than 385,000 residents were told to flee the Texas cities of Beaumont, Galveston and Port Arthur, and still more were ordered to evacuate low-lying southwestern Louisiana, where forecasters said more than 13 feet of storm surge topped by waves could submerge entire towns.
Laura is not expected to greatly affect Florida, although it could bring rip currents along the Panhandle.
Hurricane Laura's cone as of 5 a.m. 8/26/20 (National Hurricane Center)
A storm surge warning was added early Wednesday from Freeport to San Luis Pass, Texas. A storm surge watch is in effect for the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, as well as Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Borgne.
Forecasters said ocean water could push onto land along a more than 450-mile-long stretch of coast from Texas to Mississippi. On top of that, up to 15 inches of rain could fall in some spots in Louisiana, said National Weather Service meteorologist Donald Jones.