Thanks, dbob. This one sort of resembles Rita. I just hope Laura isn't as strong.
Laura was a 3 as of two or so hours ago. There is a possibility of the storm reaching Cat 4 before landfall. A 4 has max sustained winds of 130-156 mph. Wind damage will extend far inland. Expecting ~70 mph gusts with max sustained in the 55 mph range for up to four hours here in Shreveport. Winds that high for that long will result in serious tree damage and knock out electrical service. Localized flash flooding should be a concern for those in low lying areas or along drainage areas. Heed dbob, take precautions.
Thanks... awful worried about things I have no control over.... southeast of Msrshall. tall trees and floods. worked to resolve both over the years but I don't think it will be enough. we'll see. stay safe everyone. as safe as possible.
It tells me, welcome to the new normal! Hurricanes have always been a regular threat to Louisiana but from here on out, they will be supercharged by a warming climate and a warming Gulf. It used to be just the coast, or on unusual occasions Baton Rouge/I-10 corridor, but now anyone living within 400 miles of the Gulf coast will have to change the way they see and prepare for Cat 4's and 5's. More will be coming. Maybe this year. Still over 60 days to go in Hurricane Season.
Skip, just hoping that you and all others in the path of this monster are OK. My daughter in law has friends and family in Lake Charles / so far only wind damage and not that extreme (as seen yet).
Imagine if this hit at either NOLA or thru Galveston and Houston!
Here in Shreveport less rain than forecast but we got much of the winds predicted. Lots of trees down and power out for many. The eye stayed east of us so we avoided the "bad side" of the storm. Looks like the eye tracked between Minden and Ruston. I expect that area got all the wind we had plus considerably more rain. Winds are beginning to subside here now and I will start clearing away the tree limbs.
Yes, we should all imagine what a Cat 4 storm would do to a major metro area. We are in a new normal for hurricanes and I fear that we will not have to imagine in the not too distant future. I've lived through many hurricanes but none maintained this much power this far inland. So we can also imagine Baton Rouge or Corpus Christi or even San Antonio and Austin. The damage in Lake Charles will likely be surreal. The Isle of Capri Casino boat was torn from its moorings and wedged under the I-10 bridge. Imagine if that stretch of the Interstate is closed for some months.
I’m not sure how this opinion squares with the historical facts? The strongest storm on record to hit Louisiana was the 1856 “Last Island” Hurricane. Hurricane Audrey hit with similar force and path in 1957. Laura may end up being as strong or stronger, but the point is that there are numerous historical storms that we can reference that have displayed similar strength and patterns. It is true that the climate is changing, but the data doesn’t reflect that it is making hurricanes stronger or more frequent. According to the National Hurricane Center, 8 of the top 10 Cat 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the Atlantic (Gulf of Mexico included) basin occurred between 1924 and 1938. The remaining 2 occurred in 1953 and 1955. (Note: no accurate wind speeds off shore could be recorded prior to 1924)
What is undeniable is the dramatic decrease in the loss of life. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), deaths due to extreme weather have decreased over 90% over the last century. This is a result of improved forecasting and the ability to “spread the word” more effectively. Unfortunately, some people will still ignore the data.
Regardless of the scientific minutiae, I pray all are safe. So far in Harrison County Texas, it’s been mainly a rain event. We’ve had some good winds, but not out of the ordinary.
The preponderance of evidence and the scientific consensus support the part played by climate change in the frequency and power of tropical storms..
Hurricane Laura’s rapid intensification is a sign of a warming climate, scientists say
Hurricanes that go from dangerous to deadly very quickly are occurring more often, research suggests.
August 27, 2020 at 5:39 p.m. CDT
Surveying the Gulf of Mexico late Tuesday afternoon, National Hurricane Center experts saw a Category 1 hurricane — dangerous, but not likely to cause major damage. Forecaster Jack Beven put the storm’s maximum sustained wind speed at around 80 mph, forecasting a strong Category 2 storm by the next day.
Twenty-four hours later, Hurricane Laura was unrecognizable. It had rocketed into a high-end Category 4 storm, with wind speeds of nearly 145 mph, and was teetering toward Category 5 — the most dangerous.
It was one of the fastest transformations on record in the Gulf of Mexico.
Experts call the phenomenon “rapid intensification” and say it’s happening more frequently, thanks in part to warming ocean temperatures driven by climate change. The speed with which these storms morph can complicate both weather forecasting and emergency responses.
“Laura is, unfortunately, an example of the forecaster’s worst nightmare ... rapid intensification of a storm in the day or so leading up to landfall,” said MIT hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel.
Storms that quickly intensify close to land are not only likely to cause greater destruction, they allow little time for preparation — those in harm’s way may not see what’s coming.
“The problem is, several days out, people are tuning in, saying, ‘It’s a Cat 1, Cat 2, been through those, know what to do, not that bad,’ ” said Craig Fugate, who headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the Obama administration. “Then it starts intensifying and the window to evacuate closes very quickly.”
Research shows that rapid intensification events are getting more common in the Atlantic hurricane region as the climate warms. In fact, some experts say, it is almost as if as the maximum “speed limit” for storms increases, the storms themselves, like drivers, are adjusting by speeding up.
“A person coming off a stoplight in a 25-mph zone versus a 50-mph zone, you probably accelerate very differently in those situations,” said Gabriel Vecchi, a hurricane expert at Princeton University.
Jim Kossin, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Wisconsin, says the warm ocean waters and exchange of heat between the ocean and atmosphere, plus the lack of dry air or strong upper-level winds, created an ideal environment for Hurricane Laura to rapidly intensify all the way to the Louisiana coastline.
Kossin said the unusually warm waters of the Gulf are tied in part to human-caused global warming, since the vast majority of the heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gas emissions ends up in the ocean.
With a 65 mph wind speed increase in 24 hours, Laura easily clears the threshold for a “rapid intensification” event by the National Hurricane Center’s standards. For the Gulf of Mexico, Laura’s intensification rate is only matched by 2010’s Hurricane Karl, according to Philip Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University. Storms in the Caribbean have intensified even faster.
Leonard Harrison, 49, the grounds director of the Cajun Navy, drives a search and rescue vehicle after Hurricane Laura made landfall near Lake Charles, La., on Thursday. (Callaghan O’Hare for The Washington Post)
But in recent years, other storms have also morphed quickly into major hurricanes, led by 2017’s Hurricane Maria, which managed an 80-mph increase in a day’s time and is blamed for the deaths of thousands in Puerto Rico.
The most rapidly intensifying storms have also usually been the most destructive — Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, Michael, Dorian and now Laura. And that’s just in the past four years. In 2005, the record intense Hurricane Wilma exploded by 110 mph in just a day.
What’s more, Hurricane Laura — like Category 5 Hurricane Michael in 2018 and Category 4 Hurricane Harvey in 2017 — intensified through the point of landfall, rather than weakening as they approached the Gulf Coast, which until recently had been more typical behavior, and which occurred with Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Suzana Camargo, a research professor at Columbia University’s Lahmont-Doherty Earth Observatory, doubts a new trend of superstorms that don’t weaken near land. She said it’s more likely that storms that rapidly intensify tend not to follow the rules, period.
Increasingly, many scientists suspect climate change is playing a role in these events.
A 2019 study in the journal Nature documented a trend toward more rapidly intensifying hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean between 1982 and 2009, and used a model that determined it would have been unlikely without human-caused climate change. Another 2020 study by Kossin and his colleagues further cemented the point by showing that globally, and especially in the Atlantic, storms are more likely now to reach the highest hurricane categories.
“Our confidence continues to grow that storms have become stronger, and it is linked to climate change and they will continue to get stronger as the world continues to warm,” Kossin said.
As the planet heats up, warm tropical ocean water from the surface down to a depth of tens of meters or more provides energy for hurricanes. With more energy, the storm strengthens faster than it typically would.
Hurricane intensification right before landfall will be a growing risk as the planet warms, MIT’s Emanuel has warned.
But there is some debate over whether the dramatic changes in the Atlantic, particularly since the 1980s, are due chiefly to climate change or if atmospheric and oceanic cycles are also playing a role, Vecchi said.
Furthermore, some scientists think the reduction in sulfate aerosol pollution from power plants, thanks to the Clean Air Act, is also a factor in worsening hurricanes because the aerosols had a cooling effect by reflecting sunlight away from the planet.
Whatever is causing the changes, experts say that forecasting rapid intensification is difficult and it lags behind improvements in determining where storms will actually go.
“They’ve shown tremendous improvement in the track forecast, the intensity forecast is still an area that needs a lot of work,” Fugate said.
Hurricane Laura showcased the improvements made in forecasting a storm’s path. The National Hurricane Center accurately predicted the landfall location to within 0.6 miles, and at nearly the exact time of landfall, 87 hours in advance.
Still, even as the number of rapidly intensified storms increase, they remain relatively rare, Kossin said.
Most computer models that forecasters use don’t accurately capture rapid intensification events ahead of time.
“Forecasters are probably reluctant to go with a forecast of extreme, explosive intensification, you really go out on a limb there,” he said. “They just don’t have the guidance so they tend to be more conservative.”
While the official forecasts played catch-up with Laura, National Hurricane Center forecasters consistently warned in technical discussions read by meteorologists and emergency managers that the storm could become very intense and do so quickly. That way people paid close attention. “I think they did very well,” Camargo said. “They warned days before that there’s a chance it would become a very intense storm.”
‘Not in my lifetime’
Ruston reeling from Hurricane Laura; officials surprised storm raged so far north
Adam Hunsucker Monroe News-Star USA TODAY NETWORK
As Hurricane Laura reached Louisiana early Thursday morning, it seemed almost impossible the path of destruction would include the city of Ruston.
Don Wheeler preferred the term “rare,” though the Monroe-based meteorologist might be selling Laura short.
A USA Today Network correspondent, Wheeler said he’s never seen a storm rage more than 200 miles from the coast.
“Not in my lifetime,” Wheeler told The News-Star. “It is not a common occurrence for one to get this far inland and carry strength. It has happened in storms past in other locations in the country, but it’s not common.”
Hurricane Laura made landfall around 1 a.m. in Cameron Parish. After tearing through Lake Charles, Laura raged into DeRidder and Leesville, continued north through Winn and Jackson parishes, then approached Lincoln Parish.
Just 16 months ago, a tornado killed two people in Ruston and decimated portions of the city.
“I admit I didn’t have a plan for a hurricane in north central Louisiana,” Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker told the USA Today Network.
Per the Lincoln Parish Sherriff ’s Department, over 200 trees in the parish were knocked down during the storm. Walker said in a Facebook video on Friday that 95 percent of Ruston’s electrical grid is without power.
Walker extended a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in Ruston through Friday due to power outages.
“This is not like the tornado where we had a very specific area where the damage was,” Walker said. “This is our entire city. Every part of it.”
Wheeler compared Laura to Hurricane Betsy. One of the deadliest storms in American history, Betsy made landfall near New Orleans in Sept. 1965 and reached Monroe.
“The closest storm I can think of for north Louisiana was Betsy and Betsy wasn’t as strong as this one,” Wheeler said.
“This is not like the tornado where we had a very specific area where the damage was. This is our entire city. Every part of it.”
Wheeler said the strength and speed of Hurricane Laura allowed the storm to hit so far inland.
Per the National Weather Service Hurricane Center, Laura hit Cameron Parish as a Category 4 hurricane and produced sustained winds of 150 mph. The storm arrived in Ruston with Category 1 status and sustained winds around 75 mph.
“This one was a strong Category 4, almost a Category 5, at landfall and it moved at a very good clip at 15 mph,” Wheeler said. “If it’s slower it gives them more time to weaken before they get this far north. This one was moving fast and was able to carry the stronger winds with it.”
To everyone in north Louisiana. Our prayers have been and are with you.
Came through the storm without too much trouble. Small roof leak and a bunch of oak and pecan branches on the ground. Tall trees survived. Might have them trimmed back a lot or taken down before they take the old family home down.