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Hurricane Laura still strengthening, targets NW Gulf Coast

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Laura was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane with a special update from the National Hurricane Center Tuesday morning. Laura has continued to strengthen through the day Tuesday as it moves over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

As of the 11 p.m. advisory, Hurricane Hunters have found Laura to be a strong Category 1 hurricane.

Laura has maximum sustained wind near 90 mph and a minimum central pressure of 978 mb, moving west-northwest at 17 mph.

All eyes are on Laura as it targets the Gulf Coast. Laura will continue to move over warm water and into an area featuring low vertical wind shear. These elements could lead to rapid intensification before landfall late Wednesday night. In fact, Laura is expected to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane already by Wednesday morning.

There are no significant changes from the previous advisory, with Laura expected to become a Category 3 (major) hurricane before making landfall along the NW Gulf Coast close to the Louisiana-Texas border sometime Wednesday night.

If this forecast verifies, it would be the first major hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

As the distance between Hurricane Laura and Southwest Florida increases, the breezy conditions we saw Monday and Tuesday will subside for Wednesday.

However, a High Surf Advisory remains in effect through Wednesday for the coast of Charlotte and Lee counties, where surf of 5′ or higher is possible. We’ll also have to watch out for the potential of dangerous rip currents over the next couple of days.