TRUNEWS with RICK WILES Hurricane Laura has been upgraded to Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, but the National Hurricane Center warns the storm is much more dangerous than that number might indicate. Noting its “unusually large size,” the NHC is warning that Laura has the potential for “catastrophic” storm surge, “extreme” winds, and flash flooding from Sargent, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River – and area of coastline approximately 350 miles long. A tropical storm warning has been issued from Sargent to the San Luis Pass near Galveston Island, and also from Intracoastal City, La., to the mouth of the Mississippi, while the area from San Luis Pass to Intracoastal City is covered by a hurricane warning. The 7 a.m. update from the NHC states: “The eye of Hurricane Laura was located near latitude 26.4 North, longitude 91.4 West. Laura is moving toward the northwest near 15 mph (24 km/h) and this general motion should continue today, followed by a north-northwestward motion tonight. On the forecast track, Laura should approach the Upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts this evening and move inland near those areas tonight or Thursday morning. “Data from NOAA and Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 mph (185 km/h) with higher gusts. Laura is a dangerous category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale and is forecast to continue strengthening into a category 4 hurricane later today. Rapid weakening is expected after Laura makes landfall. “Laura is a large hurricane. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm- force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km). Buoy 42395, located just east of Laura’s eye, recently reported a sustained wind of 74 mph (119 km/h) and a wind gust of 107 mph (172 km/h) and a wave height of 37 feet (11 meters). “The latest minimum central pressure estimated from NOAA and Air Force reconnaissance aircraft data is 963 mb (28.44 inches).” Storm surge could reach up to 15 feet high in some locations, while rainfall amounts of up to 15 inches are also forecast. The forecast track has the storm making landfall overnight tonight and moving northward into Louisiana and Arkansas before making a “right turn” and moving through parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey – potentially reforming as a tropical storm when it returns to the Atlantic Ocean and making a “left turn” to skirt the New England coast. The next update will be at 10 a.m. EDT. (Photo Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) www.trunews.com
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