Tropical Storm Laura is showing steady signs of intensification early this Tuesday morning. Intense thunderstorms are developing near the inner center of circulation, and upper-level outflow is improving in all directions around the storm. It is very likely that Laura will intensify into a hurricane as we head deeper into Tuesday morning.
Hurricane Watches and Tropical Storm Watches are up for much of the upper Texas and Louisiana coastlines in anticipation of Laura, and some of these areas are likely to get upgraded to warnings as we head deeper into Tuesday. The most recent track from the National Hurricane Center early this morning has Laura moving northwestward through the central Gulf of Mexico and making landfall in far southwest Louisiana late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, before recurving northeastward and eventually eastward through portions of the Lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys later in the week.
There is growing model consensus for Laura to make landfall in either southwest Louisiana or just across the line into far southeastern Texas. Based on this track idea, and another previous model track idea that is becoming less likely, here are two possible scenarios for local impacts in our area late Thursday night and through Friday:
Scenario #1 is a solution that the models have been steadily backing away from, but we still can't completely rule it out. If Laura tracks more westward through the Gulf and makes landfall farther west along the Texas coastline, the northward curve after landfall would be situated significantly more west of our area, and it would be harder for Laura's remnants to hook back eastward toward Friday because the remnants would "miss the boat" for being absorbed into the upper-level jet stream diving across the Ohio Valley. If this more westerly track happens, this would keep any risk of severe weather later in the week well to the west of our area.
Scenario #2 is the solution that the models seem to be converging toward, and at least as of now, is the more likely solution to pan out. However, that does NOT mean it is a guarantee. In this scenario, if Laura tracks more toward the Louisiana coastline for landfall, even far west and southwest Louisiana, the remnants after landfall will be more likely to hook more northeastward toward the Tennessee Valley as we approach Friday. If a track similar to this does happen, our local area would be immediately to the right of the track of the remnant circulation. This would act to increase our threat of heavy rainfall, locally gusty winds, and even the potential for tornadoes. On the CURRENT forecast timeline, the greater threat of this in our viewing area would be roughly from midday to midnight on Friday, but this is VERY prone to changes as we go forward in time.
This forecast still has a good bit of uncertainty involved with it and will come down to the exact track of Laura. We will be fine-tuning these details over the next few days. We are finalizing our coverage plans already, and we will be fully staffed at the Tennessee Valley Weather Center and ready to provide you with live coverage should the eventual remnants of Laura become a threat to our local area.