4 hours ago – 17:00 UTC August 26, 2020
By now it’s abundantly clear that Tropical Cyclone Laura will go down in the books. “Rapid intensification” is an understatement. For official products, I’ll point you to the NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center (https://www.nhc.noaa.gov). Many other meteorologists and hurricane specialists have done very well to cover the scenario, so I’ll spare you from any redundancy on my part.
Yet, here we are looking at the temperature of the clouds with lightning overlaid. What I will quickly offer (and remind):
1. Lightning in the eyewall (last frames of the animation) and a “reddening” of clouds in a circle around the eye suggest that Laura will get stronger still (winds are just shy of 115 kts as of 2 hours before the time of this writing) before landfall.
2. Storm surge is the biggest killer with landfalling TC’s/hurricanes – 10 ft+ rise in ocean surface plus 10-20ft waves on top of that = devastating inundation in this case.
3. While Laura’s core will skirt between Houston and major LA metro areas, there is a real risk of tornadoes to the east of Laura’s center from this afternoon into the overnight hours today/tonight.
Tropical Cyclone Laura has reached strong category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson tropical cyclone wind intensity scale as of 16:00 CDT 26 August 2020, packing winds of 130 kts (~150 mph)! An earlier hurricane-hunter aircraft reconnaissance pass illustrated that the strongest winds were located in the northeast quadrant of the cyclone.
Storm surge will be major with this one! To those in the path, stay safe and observe all warnings from the National Hurricane Center…