POSTED AT 6:50 AM CT WEDNESDAY: Good morning. Hurricane Laura has really intensified overnight, and at sunrise this morning it is a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. It may peak at 130 mph later today before landfall tonight.
Houston now lies well out of the National Hurricane Center forecast cone (see map below) and it is now clear the Houston-Galveston metro area will escape the worst of what is a powerful Hurricane Laura. We are still going to monitor this storm closely, and we will definitely see some inclement weather in our region later today and tonight—but nothing like the Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Southwestern Louisiana areas will experience as Laura makes landfall near the border between Texas and Louisiana around midnight. This has been a very, very close call for Houston.
It seems increasingly evident that Hurricane Rita will offer a useful guide for what to expect from Laura. Rita made landfall just east of the Texas-Louisiana border on September 24, 2005, as a Category 3 hurricane with 115-mph winds. This is near the expected landfall strength of Laura (present forecast is 120 or 130 mph). It looks like Laura may track slightly east of Rita’s path inland, but the 15-year-old storm provides a strikingly similar analog.
So what were the effects of Rita in Houston? This National Weather Service report provides information on wind gusts and rainfall totals from across the region. Winds were the most striking effect. Peak gusts just above 60 mph were recorded at Bush Intercontinental Airport and Galveston Island, with sustained winds of 45 mph. Most of the region briefly saw gusts in the 50s. This was enough to knock out some power on Galveston Island. So I think for Houston, tonight, we should expect to see downed trees and sporadic to widespread power outages. Damages from Rita were estimated at $90 million in Harris County, most due to food losses during outages.
Conditions today and tonight
Now that we finally have a solid handle on Laura’s track and intensity, we can speak with some reasonable confidence about weather as the storm makes landfall around midnight tonight, or shortly thereafter.
Areas east of Interstate 45 in Houston have about a 50 percent chance of seeing tropical storm-force winds, likely beginning around sunset or a few hours afterward. Areas such as Galveston Bay, Chambers County, and Bolivar Peninsula will see higher gusts. This forecast map, from the European model, provides a reasonable estimate of “peak” wind gusts that can be expected tonight at a level of 30 feet off the ground. Winds at the surface will be about 10 percent less. Under this forecast, Beaumont and Port Arthur would likely miss the storm’s most catastrophic winds, but it’s still going to be nasty, and at this point it’s too close to call. A destructive wind path will continue well inland along Laura’s track.
Surge is another major concern as Laura grows larger and more powerful over the Northwest Gulf of Mexico. The following map from the National Hurricane Center estimates the level water could reach above normal levels at high tide.
Scattered showers and thunderstorms will likely move into the area from the southeast this morning, and will then spread over the region later today and tonight. Here is the latest estimate for rainfall totals over the next 48 hours.
Note to readers
We have received so many kind e-mails, comments here, on Facebook, on Twitter and elsewhere that Matt and I cannot reply to them all, at least not in the midst of a frenetic forecasting period like this. But know that we do deeply appreciate you, our readers. Thanks to word of mouth, almost exclusively, we have grown rapidly since starting Space City Weather in late 2015. On Wednesday, alone, we had 1.6 million page views and more than 520,000 visitors to the site. This is more than Matt and I could have hoped, and we are humbled by your appreciation. Really, we are just two nerds with a passion for weather. We’re glad to be able to share that with you, and help in times of crisis, with the support of Reliant. Our philosophy will never change—we’re just trying to make the best possible forecasts amidst the uncertainty. We love the Houston region, warts and all, and it is our pleasure to be able to give something back.
Our next post will come at 10:30am CT.
97 thoughts on “Confidence high in Laura landfall near Texas-Louisiana border tonight”
Thank you so much. Worried for our family and friends in Lake Charles, but breathing a sigh of relief for us.
So grateful to you both for your no nonsense reporting and insight. In the past, I would be glued to my tv allowing the hype to elevate my anxiety but thanks to your posts, I feel prepared without all of the unnecessary drama.
Stay safe possible Follow the guidelines for your city s information cone to you We are in this together with everything that’s going on God is good & have all of us wrapped in His arms Pray AMEN AMEN AMEN
This is incredible. Thank you
The best weather website in the City!
We, most of us truly appreciate the news, WITHOUT the hype shoved down our throats by most of the media. Witness the page views. We can count on level headed advice from our guys here, PRICELESS! It’s unlikely we’ll ever see our guys holding onto a sign post outside in sideways blowing rain driven by gale force winds. They’ll wisely leave that to the (expletive deleted) who gladly demonstrate their stupidity. Knowledge combined with common sense!! UNCOMMON.
You guys are the best! I love all the detail you give us without the drama like mainstream media!
I totally agree. It is so good to finally have a site I feel puts a truthful spin on what is happening without fearful drama. Just the facts. Thanks guys. I am new to this site.
We appreciate you guys so much!!! Thank you for all you do!
No better weather info anywhere!
Thanks for your continued hard work.
So no more shifting a little to the West? Galveston is out of danger?
Thank you for all your hard work!!
Thank you Eric and Matt. You guys are the most trusted source for weather in critical times like this for many of us. I got a text from a girl friend a couple days ago …”what do Eric and Matt say?” Think that says it all!
Smart friend Julie.
I have been following you guys since the beginning and I never comment on the web because well, we all know why, but damn, you guys rock! I forward your updates to all my co-workers, family, and friends and they have become fans and your updates are what keep us sane. During these times the chatter around the office is “hey, have those SpaceCity fellas posted anything yet…”. Thanks so much all of you.
Thank you for your sleepless nights and nerdiness to bring us a forecast without the usual fear-based hype. I hope y’all get some good rest this weekend!
Thank you for doing what you do for our community! I recommend this blog to everyone I know, especially those new to Houston who are having tropical weather anxiety. You two are amazing, and I am grateful that your nerdiness has such a practical application that serves so many. Hang in there!
Thanks Eric and Matt for all you do!
Thank you for the levelheaded reporting! I’ve been relying on you since Hurricane Harvey.
Thank you for the excellent reporting.
Thoughts on how we will be affected in the Lake Livingston area? We’re in Onalaska, where so many are still not recovered from the devastating tornado in April and I pray we don’t get hit again.
Thank you for everything you do. Thanks to the recommendation of a close friend, you have gained a new follower out of this. Keep up the good work.
You are my “go-to” weather source. Your info is free of hype and is not a plea for ratings.
Appreciate you both so much. Been following you since you started and as a serious outdoor person have relied on your candid, thoughtful and hype-free forecasts. You can’t put a price on that trust in another person(s)
Thank you Matt and Eric or Space City Weather Dudes as I call you to my family and friends. Been following you for several years for your spot on forecasting and appreciate how you keep all of us so well informed!
Thanks to your calm, no hype reporting I am calmer this morning. I very much appreciate your forecasts.
A relief for Houston. Praying for those in the line of the storm. Thank you for all you do.
thank you guys, we do love seeing your emails.
You guys are simply the best. Thanks for all you do!
Thank you guys so much, I couldn’t wait to see your next posts the last few days. You were so on target and straight forward with your forecasts. Thanks for working so hard to keep us updated!
Thank you, thank you! You keep me sane. Fabulous success on this site. And, well deserved.
Long time follower way back from the “Sci-Guy” blog on the local newspaper. I remember the whole beginning of the “should Katy evacuate” thing and how it became used for levity. Suffice to say, y’all are nails and my family’s “go-to” for local weather info. Many of our friends and acquaintances now turn to y’all for accurate weather info without the hype. Keep up the great work!!!
Thanks for all you do! We trust you over any other weather guys!
Good work gentlemen. Keep the information coming. Thank you!
We all truly appreciate your passion for always giving us a no-hype report. I am sending these reports to my siblings in Maine and Colorado to let them know how we are doing. You guys have lowered my anxiety level during hurricane season. I also follow your daily reports on our weather, whether it is the extreme heat of summer or the occasional freeze here in Houston you give us the best reports out there. This 72 year old native Houstonion thanks you!!
Thank you guys! You’re the best and thank you for keeping us updated during periods of uncertainty
Again, thank you for your no-hype reporting.
Channel 13 was almost shameful early this morning in the way they were trying to scare people into watching. Neil Frank would not be pleased!
I hope I’m not being too dense, but does that mean we can stop preparations?
And THANK YOU for all your hard work & dedication to making us feel safe and confident that we do have some certainty @ what to expect. Especially for us with kids & pets – this is priceless.
Thank you for providing this service, free of charge, to all Houstonians.
We are grateful for it and understand the time you both put into this endeavour.
Stay the course and be safe tonight.
Thank y’all for giving us, the REAL Wx, and the explanations, for the forecast.
Like I said on Twitter, neither of you should have to buy your own ever again because of the work/service you’re doing. Y’all rock.
Blessings to you both! You will never know how much I appreciate your sensible and straight forward weather reporting! You guys are simply the best! Thank you!
We always look to see what Eric and Matt say about our weather. Thank you so much. You both are awesome.
Great work guys. Just discovered your site (word of mouth) and it’s now book marked and I eagerly anticipate your updates. Thanks and stay safe.
Just thank you
Great job, thanks for great updates and information.
Thank you so much!
Thanks to you both for your passion to connect our region with the facts and insights to make decisions for our families. We appreciate the straight talk and lack of hype, especially in these anxious times!
No lie – I totally got choked up reading your note to readers…when planning for how we will approach staffing and recovery during a storm, I don’t finalize any decisions until I check in with Space City Weather – your contribution is invaluable and you are very much appreciated!!!!
As always mixed emotions. I am glad we are not getting the brunt but I worry about those who will get it.
Thank you all for the coverage and keep it up! You all are a priceless resource!
Your work is so important for Houston and is very much appreciated!
Matt and Eric, Thank you for the amazing work you do. I am wearing my Space City Weather t shirt today in homage to y’all. Keep up the good work.
Thank you greatly, Eric and Matt. The God above all weather is using you guys to share wisdom and keep many people safe. May He bless you, meet your deepest needs, and draw you ever closer to Himself and His perfect love. 🙏✝️
It seems that there were a lot more calls for evacuations for Rita than Laura in the Houston area. If that is true, was it because forecasting wasn’t as advanced back then?
1) we had just watched New Orleans drown. The view of human tragedy at the Superdome, on the overpasses, on roofs, and the floor of the Astrodome had the entire city scared out of its wits. Rita looked like a Monster on every level. Everybody was scared pee-less and Nobody wanted to be here.
2) we watched people die on the freeways, in summer heat, as cars broke down and ran out of gas, and it took 12-24 hours to go 50 miles. City and County officials have been (rightly) terrified of calling an all-out evacuation ever since. Even in the face of Harvey, they specifically called out the Rita evacuation tragedy as reasoning for not ordering wide-spread evacuations.
I believe it was because it followed Katrina and everybody over reacted. Just my opinion. Got stranded at my brothers house in Tomball because there was no gas to fill my car to get back home to Pasadena.
Rita was only a month after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Everyone was terrified of the possibility that the same thing could happen to Houston, and took the threat very seriously (and it certainly could have been really bad if the path had shifted further west.)
Of course, many in the west and north who weren’t in serious danger also felt the need to evacuate, contributing to the worst traffic jam in history (30 hours from Clear Lake for me…)
Guys, thanks for another great effort in keeping us safe and informed. In our case we were able to make our preparations for our home on Tiki Island and then monitor your posts to decide if/when we needed to leave for our safe spot in Houston. By following you we were able to stay put yesterday and know that we would be able to lave this morning if necessary. Finally we were able to feel secure that evacuation wasn’t going to be necessary early this morning. Like everyone else hopefully those in the direct path of Laura come through OK. Like after Ike for us they will face months of clean up and repair but they have the strength to see it through.
SO glad to find this site!!!! Bookmarked and receiving emails. The best!!!
Thanks for your hard work to keep us informed and safe.
Appreciate ya’ll’s dedication to keeping us informed. Trying to get the word out via social media. Blessings
You guys do a fantastic job of summarizing what is known and what is unknown. Please keep up the great job.
I sincerely appreciate your site; it has been very effective in keeping me updated in what is going on with the hurricane. Keep up the good work.
Yet another Thank You! I watched a little TV yesterday just to see the contrast – and it was significantly more breathless. Appreciate you all the more. Keep on keeping on!
Through several storm cycles now you guys have been instrumental in saving my sanity. I am very grateful.
Thank you Eric and Matt. Great job as usual and its nice to see you both becoming revered in this community. Well deserved. Not to mention it allows a lot of us to not base our plans on network news which is a relief. I’m sure my hair would be falling out if you guys weren’t here to give rational forecasts.
You guys are great and provide the best weather forecasting for the Houston metro area. I’ve recommended your site to numerous Houstonians.
Thanks for all you do and keep up the good work!
You guys have been our rock throughout this storm, and will continue to be. I have forwarded yr updates to my loved ones and urged them to follow you. Love yr predictions without the hype. Keep up the good work And God bless.
Houston loves you warts and all too!
Thanks to you and Matt for keeping us informed without the hype. Stay dry and stay safe.
Thank you for your real and non hyped information. That is an illusive thing in these times. As a retired airline pilot, I am also a “weather geek” and appreciate your work.
Posted your link on a 15,000+ member Facebook group of parents with kids at Texas A&M so they could get the weather sans hype. These parents are all over the country, and some out of US. I know those who followed appreciate you, nerdiness and all. Nerds are cool. 👍
Your always articulate commentary is appreciated. I rely solely on you two, never radio or TV, for my weather advisories. Thank you both!
From an Old Lady in Garden Oaks. 😷
Thank you all for your dedcated work in keeping us informed on the recent storms. I am new to this site and really appreciate the thoughtful information. It’s people like you who make Houston the great place it is.
We so appreciate being able to learn what’s happening in the Gulf without all of the local broadcasts’ attendant hysteria. I thank you kindly, and so do my nerves. (Although I couldn’t resist checking in at 3:20 this morning! ;-))
You all got it wrong. At least admit the National Hurricane Center was right and you guys were wrong.
they did already.
I just have to add my appreciation too. I have been a subscriber since you started the website after discovering you were no longer with the Chronicle. (He-he-he……… I just love that the Chronicle quotes you in their updates.)
I hang on every word, quote you and watched the clock for your next updates. Thanks seems inadequate but know how vital you both have become to all of us.
Thank you so much for all your dedicated work and no-hype posts! I’ve been a reader since Eric’s Chron Blog days, I’m so glad that your reach has grown. Stay safe and hope you can take a bit of a break this weekend.
Thank you for the work you do!! Y’all need an app!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Matt & Eric – every time we have a severe weather threat, your collective expertise and calm, hype-free analysis shines! I always share your posts on my Facebook feed and tell anyone who talks about the upcoming weather event about your stellar site. I discovered you during Harvey and look forward to your posts in my email, especially when severe weather approaches. Thank you to YOU for your great service to our community!
Thank you Eric and Matt. I found you during Harvey. Your approach was calm, thoughtful and explained what was going on. I was out of town then and the all hype Channel had me scared beyond belief. I’ve been a fan since then and recommend you to everyone. Thanks for another no hype explanation of Laura!!
This is sure good news for the readers in Houston. Comparing this to Rita, I’m glad that we are not repeating one of the big mistakes of Rita, which was the panic after Katrina had hit New Orleans just a short time prior, which led to a giant evacuation of Galveston and Houston, with traffic stuck on the freeways for days, and deaths from heat stroke on the roads.
Meanwhile, Louisiana and East Texas can ill afford to be hit by another big storm, as the past 15 years have seen them hit with a number of strong storms
Absolutely a first class site. Clearly written and with fine graphics. At a level which a non meteorologist can understand but plenty of background if you know more about weather.
Thanks for the down to earth – No dramatic sharing of info.
Thanks to Matt & Eric for all you’re doing to keep us all informed (in a way that I do NOT feel like a dunce!!). Be safe out there!
You guys rock! We are so lucky to have you! Just keep on doing what you do so well.
“Really, we are just two nerds with a passion for weather.”
Not all heroes wear capes.
With the uncertainty, I chose to evacuate yesterday (happily, looks like it wasn’t necessary). My Space City Weather t-shirt was packed in my bag so expect some representation here in Austin.
LOVE LOVE you guys I am always in PANIC mode for storms but I feel confident with your reports. Why does the other news sensationalize so much…..it is horrible. I can not believe the difference.
“On Wednesday, alone, we had 1.6 million page views and more than 520,000 visitors to the site.”
We just like to keep Lee busy 😉
Thank you, thank you, thank you both for your concise reporting. We look no further than this blog for our weather, especially during times like these. I can do without the fear mongering of the MSM reporting. Keep up the great work!
Y’all are ROCKSTARS! Thanks for being so calm and reasonable, that inspires confidence in your forecast, good news or bad. We did not put everything in our barn, load our horses and head to the hill country. Toast yourselves often! Gracias amigos
Over the years I’ve come to exclusively rely on SCW for my hurricane updates – to the point I pay no attention to the TV forecasters. Keep doing what you do. We appreciate it!
We appreciate all you do to keep us informed. Thank you!
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