Southwest Louisiana is about 60 hours out from potential landfall of Tropical Storm Laura, expected to be a high Category 2 or low Category 3 hurricane by Wednesday evening.
Local emergency preparedness officials are recommending voluntary evacuation for those south of Global Road in Carlyss to the west of the Calcasieu River and those south of Gautier Road in Lake Charles, as well as those in travel trailers or mobile homes.
“We think it's safe for most people to stay at home,” said Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Dick Gremillion, in a news briefing Monday morning.
Given the probability of widespread electrical outages, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said a mandatory curfew will likely be issued Wednesday night. Mancuso said that, while the pandemic is new territory for local officials, the public can be assured that a hurricane is not.
Residents are asked to secure any loose items in their yards. Gremillion advised that La. Highways 109, 27, 171 and 165 are evacuation routes. He said motorists should avoid Hwy. 90.
Calcasieu Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said those still undecided as to whether to evacuate should make the decision today.
It was reported in a Monday weather update that Tropical Storm Marco is no longer expected to impact the state and is now a weak tropical depression forecast to skim along the coast of the state.
When it comes to Laura, however, it’s a different story. Hurricane force winds, in the Category 2 or 3 range, are possible from South Central Louisiana west to Southeast Texas beginning Wednesday night or Thursday morning, according to Donald Jones, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.
In a 10:30 a.m. update, Monday, Jones said areas along the coast could experience a storm surge more than 10 feet above ground level. Depending on where Laura makes landfall, the surge could affect rivers and bayous causing flooding as far inland as 30 miles. Depending on the where rain bands form, rainfall of 5 to 10 inches, with 15 inches, locally, could fall on the region. Tornadoes will be possible in the eyewall as well as in the outer rain bands.
Laura, with maximum sustained winds of near 60 mph, is currently expected to cross the western tip of Cuba this afternoon and enter the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday morning, where, Jones said, conditions are favorable for a steady strengthening until projected landfall somewhere in Southwest Louisiana or Southeast Texas Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. Jones said forecast certainty has increased and likely will continue to increase throughout the day.
It is entirely likely Laura will strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane before landfall, and residents in the affected region should prepare as if it will. If it comes ashore as a Category 2, that will bring 105 mph winds. Jones said the difference between a Category 2 and 3 is only a few miles per hour one way or another. He said the projected storm is somewhat similar in potential effects to Hurricanes Rita and Ike.