Hurricane Laura started off as a tropical disturbance in the Caribbean last weekend, and tracked the length of Cuba on Monday as a tropical storm, before heading out into the Gulf of Mexico in a north-westerly direction.
As of 01:00 Wednesday, it is located about 380 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas and is moving steadily towards the west-northwest. At the moment the maximum sustained winds are around 100 mph and increasing. The system is expected to continue moving west-northwest for about the next 12 hours but then turn northwest before arcing around to the northeast over the next two days. It is forecast to make landfall somewhere around the Texas-Louisiana border late today Wednesday.
All indications are for Laura to strengthen rapidly over the next 12 hours, quickly becoming a major hurricane before it makes landfall. The major factor in this case is high sea surface temperature of around 30°C, which pumps significant amounts of energy into the system. As soon as it hits land it is expected to start to weaken, although hurricane force winds will still penetrate well inland into eastern Texas and western Louisiana on Thursday.
Warnings of hurricane-force winds and storm surges are in effect for Louisiana and Eastern Texas from later today Wednesday. The storm surge is particularly hazardous along this coast, being augmented by the effect of the tide. Water levels could reach up to 14 feet above normal and the effects of the storm surge could be felt up to 30 miles inland.
If you are in the right place at the right time, you might be lucky enough to get a short-lived pulse of decent surf. At spots in northwest Florida such as Pensacola, wave heights quickly increase to well over six feet during today and ramp down overnight and through tomorrow Thursday, with moderate onshores throughout.
On the other side of the disaster area, the swell is cleaner, with some spots along the east-facing coast of Texas and northeast Mexico coast hitting six to eight feet later this evening with periods of up to 15 secs and light to moderate cross or offshore winds.