Travel Alert August 2020: Hurricane Laura Strengthens; Threatens Louisiana and Eastern Texas

If Louisiana or eastern Texas are in your travel plans over the next few days, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather — due to Hurricane Laura, whose landfall is forecast for somewhere near the border of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana as soon as tomorrow evening, Wednesday August 26, 2020.

Travel Alert August 2020: Hurricane Laura Strengthens; Threatens Louisiana and Eastern Texas

Hurricane Laura

Source: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.

Maximum sustained winds of Hurricane Laura — which is currently centered approximately 410 miles southeast of the coast of the southernmost border of Texas and Louisiana and is moving west northwest at 17 miles per hour — are 90 miles per hour, which means that this storm is classified as a strong Category 1 hurricane and on the threshold of becoming a Category 2 hurricane; and it is expected to strengthen to a possible Category 3 hurricane prior to landfall somewhere near the border of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana as soon as tomorrow evening.

A hurricane warning is in effect from San Luis Pass in Texas to Intracoastal City in Louisiana; while a hurricane watch is in effect in Louisiana from east of Intracoastal City to west of Morgan City.

A storm surge warning is in effect from San Luis Pass in Texas to the mouth of the Mississippi River — which includes areas inside the Port Arthur Hurricane Flood Protection system — while a storm surge watch is in effect in Texas from Freeport to San Luis Pass; the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs in Mississippi; and including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Borgne.

A tropical storm warning is in effect in Texas from Sargent to San Luis Pass; and in Louisiana from east of Intracoastal City to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The areas which will be impacted by Hurricane Laura may likely experience flash flooding from up to 12 inches of heavy rain, locally damaging winds with gusts up to as strong as 120 miles per hour at times, rough surf, a storm surge of up to 13 feet, and electric power outages. Tornadoes are possible as well; and areas which have been affected by Tropical Storm Marco earlier this week may especially be vulnerable.

Multiple waterspouts — which are basically tornadoes which occur out over the open water — have already occurred near an oil platform off the coast of Louisiana. Damage to oil platforms can mean increases in the price of fuel — including a gallon of gasoline.

Remember that in the case of tropical systems which approach the gulf coast of the United States, the upper right quadrant is the most powerful and most dangerous because those tropical systems spin counterclockwise directly from the Gulf of Mexico — meaning that even though cities such as New Orleans are not expected to be hit directly, Hurricane Laura will still likely cause a significant impact.

At least 20 people in Haiti and three people in the Dominican Republic were killed while Laura was a tropical storm in the Caribbean region earlier this week; and it knocked out electrical power to greater than one million people.

Evacuations are already underway for hundreds of thousands of people in cities such as Port Arthur, Galveston, and Beaumont in Texas. Fees for the toll roads in Harris County in Texas — which includes the city of Houston — have been waived to ease evacuation for motorists from the coast of Texas so that they may head inland to safer ground.

Additionally, motorists were strongly advised to stay off the roads in Houston to give residents of Galveston a chance to evacuate.

Once Hurricane Laura ventures forth inland and weakens, as many as 25 states in the United States may be affected with heavy rain and gusty winds from the Gulf Coast all the way to New England before it reemerges out over the Atlantic Ocean.

Laura became the earliest tropical system in the Atlantic Basin which was named with an L, breaking a weather record held by Luis, which formed on Tuesday, August 29, 1995. The tropical season of 2020 has been more active than normal with 13 named storms.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to or from Louisiana or eastern Texas over the next few days, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to this tropical weather system which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary.

Here are eight airlines which have issued travel alerts — or are at least monitoring the storm — as a result of this tropical weather system:

  • American Airlines has issued travel alerts for 13 cities in five states for Tuesday, August 25, 2020 through Thursday, August 27, 2020; and Monday, August 31, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued travel alerts for nine cities in three states for Tuesday, August 25, 2020 through Thursday, August 27, 2020; and Sunday, August 30, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued travel alerts for nine cities in three states for Wednesday, August 26, 2020 through Thursday, August 27, 2020; and Tuesday, September 1, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Southwest Airlines has issued travel alerts for:
    • New Orleans for Monday, August 24, 2020 through Thursday, August 27, 2020; and Thursday, September 10, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Houston for Tuesday, August 25, 2020 through Thursday, August 27, 2020; and Thursday, September 10, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • JetBlue Airways has issued travel alerts for New Orleans and Houston for Wednesday, August 26, 2020 through Thursday, August 27, 2020; and Tuesday, September 1, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Frontier Airlines has issued travel alerts for New Orleans and Houston for Monday, August 24, 2020 through Thursday, August 27, 2020; and Thursday, September 3, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Spirit Airlines has issued travel alerts for New Orleans and Houston for Tuesday, August 25, 2020 through Thursday, August 27, 2020; and Wednesday, September 2, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Air Canada has issued a travel alert for Houston for Wednesday, August 26, 2020 through Thursday, August 27, 2020.

Summary

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

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