Update as of 11:15 AM:
A Hurricane Warning has been issued from San Luis Pass, Texas to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. The warning includes Galveston, Beaumont, and Lake Charles areas. Storm Surge Warnings are now in effect from San Luis Pass to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Peak surges of 9 to 13 feet are forecast from near the Texas/Louisiana line to near Intracoastal City, with a 3 to 5 foot peak surge possible in Galveston Bay. Surges of 2 to 5 feet above normally dry ground are possible as far east as Lake Ponchartrain and the Mississippi Gulf coast.
As of the 11 AM ET / 10 AM CT update, top sustained winds remained near 75 mph, but rapid intensification into a major hurricane is still expected prior to landfall somewhere between Galveston and southwest Louisiana late Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning.
Original story from 8:45 AM Tuesday:
A reconnaissance plane investigating Laura found that it became a hurricane shortly after 8 AM ET / 7 AM CT. As of that time, top sustained winds were near 75 mph.
Laura is located about 145 miles northwest of Cuba’s western tip and 625 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana. It is moving toward the west-northwest near 17 mph. On this track, Laura is expected to make landfall late Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning along the upper Texas or southwest Louisiana coastlines. Hurricane Watches and Storm Surge Watches were in effect in these areas ahead of the anticipated storm’s arrival.
Deep warm water, light wind shear, and high atmospheric moisture over the Gulf of Mexico will cause Laura to strengthen — and likely rapidly. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Laura making landfall at category 3 intensity. However, there are reliable, high-resolution computer simulations that forecast Laura to become a category 4 storm before crossing the coast.
Forecasters said life-threatening surge and flash flooding are anticipated with Laura’s arrival. Storm surge flooding of 7 to 11 feet, along with 4 to 8 inches of rain were forecast near and to the north and east of where the eye of Laura makes landfall. Large swells, rip currents, and high surf were expected to occur elsewhere along the Gulf coast and as far east as Florida, creating dangerous conditions for swimmers and mariners.