August 26, 2020 by David Gambrill
The path of Hurricane Laura — which is currently located off the U.S. Gulf Coast and described as one of the fastest-intensifying storms in history — is tracking to hit St. John’s, Nfld., next Monday as a post-tropical storm, according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre.
The rapid intensification of Hurricane Laura to a major Category 4 hurricane off the coast of Texas and Louisiana seemed to catch scientists by surprise, as reported by CNBC Wednesday.
“I’m running out of words,” climate scientist Eric Holthaus wrote in a tweet cited by CNBC. “Hurricane Laura is now one of the fastest-intensifying storms in recorded history in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The National Hurricane Center in the United States is warning residents in Texas and Louisiana of “a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline,” with storm surges Thursday projected to cause waves up to as high as 15-20 feet in some areas anticipated to be the hardest-hit.
“Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes,” the National Hurricane Center has warned in a bulletin posted Wednesday. “This storm surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline in southwestern Louisiana and far southeastern Texas….This is a life-threatening situation.”
Holthaus noted in a tweet that the current forecast would rank Laura as fifth all-time in a list of Gulf Coast hurricanes with the highest storm surges between 1880 and 2010. “Hurricane Laura is now in the same company as Camille (1969), Katrina (2005), Ike (2008), Rita (2005), and Galveston (1900) as one of the biggest hurricane threats in recorded history on the US Gulf Coast,” he tweeted. “That is terrifying.”
As of Wednesday, Laura’s maximum sustained winds are currently 220 km/h. The storm is tracking to cut overland across the southern United States as a tropical depression, and then turn eastward, passing well below Ontario, and arriving back on the U.S. east coast as a post-tropical storm Saturday. At that point, the storm is projected to head northward to pass just slightly east of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, with a direct hit projected for St. John’s, Nfld., on Aug. 31. Storm winds for Atlantic Canada by that time are projected to be 85 km/h.
Feature image courtesy of the Canadian Hurricane Centre