Laura Winds

Southwest Louisiana residents could experience tropical storm force winds beginning Wednesday morning.

At an afternoon weather briefing Monday, meteorologist Donald Jones said residents should finalize their plans before then. He cautioned against waiting for a mandatory evacuation, because one may not be issued.

Laura, still a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds at 60 mph, is officially projected to make landfall somewhere along Southeast Texas or Southwest Louisiana Wednesday night as a strong Category 2 hurricane, but Jones said it is possible it could strengthen to a Category 3 and there is an outside chance it could become a Category 4.

He said the certainty about the intensity and landfall forecast continues to grow. “But there still could be potentially some shifts in that track as we go through the next couple of days,” said Jones. He urged residents to prepare as if the storm will be a Category 3 hurricane.

After landfall, Hurricane Laura has a 40-50 percent chance of bringing hurricane force winds to Southwest Louisiana. There is a 90-100 percent chance of tropical storm force winds. Jones said the probabilities are expected to increase over the next several forecasts.

As much as a foot of rain is possible anywhere in western Louisiana and extreme eastern Texas.

Peak storm surge could reach 11 feet anywhere from High Island to Morgan City.

There is the potential for flooding up to 9 feet above ground level along the Calcasieu-Cameron Parish line. Flooding will likely occur farther north along lakes, bayous and the Calcasieu River.

Jones said what was Hurricane Marco is now a “naked swirl,” a low pressure area and is no longer an issue for the state.