Catastrophic damage predicted with Hurricane Laura and its ‘storm surge’

Weather

Catastrophic damage is predicted with Hurricane Laura.

Laura is growing into an atmospheric behemoth and is expected to roar ashore as a Category 4 hurricane in southwest Lousiana and extreme southeast Texas with 130 mph sustained winds tonight.

Model peak wind projections send gusts as high as 160 to 170 mph over offshore waters off southwest Louisiana and where frictional drag produced by land is minimal. Gusts on the southwest Louisiana coast could reach 130 to 160 mph.

A plot of marine traffic shows the number of ships in and around the hurricane, which has 115 mph sustained winds and gusts to 132 mph as Wednesday dawns, has dropped dramatically. 299 oil platforms have been evacuated.

Storm Surge

The dome of water these winds push onto the coast, the so-called storm surge, is likely to be “catastrophic,” says the National Hurricane Center.

Storm Surge is one of the hurricane’s most deadly and damaging elements. And Hurricane Laura is predicted to produce a catastrophic storm surge on the Gulf Coast.

You would think the extreme winds of a hurricane would be the primary cause of death. But studies have shown 59% of the deaths which occur in hurricanes are the product of drowning due to these storms “storm surgers” and also trauma caused by the inland flood produced by hurricanes and their remnant torrential rains which can spread inland many hundreds of miles beyond the point of landfall.

So what is a storm surge? Here’s how it’s defined by the National Hurricane Center: “Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides. Storm surge should not be confused with storm tide, which is defined as the water level rise due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide. This rise in water level can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas particularly when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, resulting in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more in some cases.”

Watch this fascinating animation of a storm surge, its genesis and impact on the coastlines it impacts.

As the start of our coverage here, check out the model predicted peak wind gust estimates. They’re stunning.

Click on these links for the latest GOES-16 satellite animations, which are truly stunning:

Here’s a live Galveston, Texas webcam:

Such a spectacular close-up view of the mesovortices rotating within Hurricane Laura’s eye this afternoon.

Also superimposed on this animation posted by meteorologist Steve Copertino are lightning strikes. They’re the small red and yellow shaded “+’s”.

This is one amazingly wrapped up and ominous storm!

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