National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

 

Hurricane Laura

Laura began as a large tropical wave that emerged off the west coast of Africa on August 16th. The wave traversed the tropical Atlantic for the next several days with little additional organization. On August 19th, the system became better organized, closed off a low-level circulation, and subsequently the National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories on Tropical Depression Thirteen late that evening.

On the morning of August 21st, Tropical Depression Thirteen strengthened into Tropical Storm Laura, which was the earliest twelfth named Atlantic storm, beating the previous record of Hurricane Luis of 1995 by eight days. As Laura moved westward, little additional strengthening took place as the center moved over the northern Lesser Antilles later that evening, and south of Puerto Rico on August 22nd. Early on August 23rd, Tropical Storm Laura made landfall across Hispaniola, traversed the entire island, and made landfall across Eastern Cuba later that evening. Tropical Storm Laura continued west northwestward, traveling just south of the island with a second landfall across Western Cuba late on August 24th.

On August 25th, Laura entered the Gulf of Mexico and became a Category 1 hurricane at 10 AM CDT.  Laura began to explosively intensify on August 26th, reaching category 2 by 1 AM CDT, category 3 by 7 AM CDT, and category 4 by 1 PM CDT. Laura reached a peak intensity of 150 mph (130 knots) and a minimum central pressure of 937 millibars (27.67 inches of mercury) by 8 PM CDT.

With little change in strength, Laura made landfall at Cameron, Louisiana around 1 AM CDT August 27th, with sustained winds of 150 mph (130 knots) and a minimum central pressure of 938 millibars (27.70 inches of mercury). Laura was the strongest hurricane to strike Southwest Louisiana since records began in 1851. Laura slowly weakened after landfall, but maintained major hurricane status throughout its passage across Cameron, Calcasieu and southern Beauregard Parishes, and category 2 status across northern Beauregard and Vernon parishes as daybreak approached on August 27th. Laura finally weakened below hurricane strength by Noon as it was crossing I-20 in North Louisiana. Click here for additional track data of Hurricane Laura.

With this being the strongest hurricane to affect Southwest Louisiana, wind damage to buildings and trees was major to catastrophic across Cameron and Calcasieu parishes, with considerable damage across Beauregard and Vernon parishes where the core of the hurricane passed.

The National Weather Service in Lake Charles, Louisiana recorded a station record highest peak wind gust of 116 knots (133 mph) at 1:42 AM CDT before the ASOS (Automated Surface Observing System) wind equipment failed. However, the ASOS barometer sensor that was safely within the NWS building (which received very little damage) recorded a station record minimum sea level pressure of 956 millibars (28.23 inches of mercury) at 2:20 AM CDT when the eye of Hurricane Laura passed nearly overhead. The Lake Charles, LA WSR-88D recorded the final radar image at 12:53 AM CDT. Upon first inspection of the National Weather Service Lake Charles station discovered the WSR-88D radome failure within the high winds of the eyewall.

Storm surge surveys are completed. Click here to access storm surge maps and data. One of the noteworthy findings was a storm surge depth just over 17 feet above ground found on the remaining pilings of a beach house in Rutherford Beach, with similar findings near Creole, LA.

For additional storm statistics and storm effects by parish and county, please refer to the NWS Lake Charles, LA Post Tropical Storm Report for Hurricane Laura.

Listed below are post-storm reports and meteorological data gathered. All data is considered preliminary, and is subject to change at any time. Additional information will continue to be added to this page in the future.



Above: GOES 16 GeoColor Satellite Image of Hurricane Laura at 2301 UTC (6:01 PM CDT) on August 26, 2020.


Above: Hurricane Laura at Cameron, LA Landfall. Left: 2km Infrared satellite image at 0556 UTC (12:56 AM CDT). Right: Lake Charles, LA WSR-88D radar image at 0553 UTC (12:53 AM CDT) on August 27, 2020.

Additional Data, Maps, Tables 
Storm Surge Wind and Pressure Storm Rainfall Storm Track

 

Radar and Satellite Animated Imagery
(NWS LCH YouTube)
Radar Imagery: San Juan, PR Lake Charles, LA Houston, TX
New Orleans, LA Fort Polk, LA Shreveport, LA
Little Rock, AR    
GOES 16 Satellite Imagery: 4km Infrared 4km Visible 4km GeoColor
  2km Infrared 1km Visible 1km GeoColor

 

Post Tropical Cyclone Reports
Lake Charles, LA Shreveport, LA New Orleans, LA
Houston, TX Little Rock, AR Jackson, MS
Key West, FL San Juan, PR National Hurricane Center

 

Assistance Resources 
NOAA Hurricane Laura Aerial Imagery Hurricane Laura Resource page from FEMA

Webpage by: Donovan Landreneau
Data collection by: WFO Brownsville staff, WFO Lake Charles staff Donovan Landreneau, Jonathan Brazzell, Roger Erickson