Storm surge models show Hurricane Laura bringing catastrophic levels of water to Gulf Coast

Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 8:57 PM EDT
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MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WITN) - Hurricane Laura is bearing down on the Gulf Coast taking aim near the Texas and Louisiana border, the massive storm is expected to bring catastrophic levels of storm surge to the region.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is urging residents in the path of the storm to leave now. “You are going to hear the word unsurvivable to describe the storm surge that we are expecting,” said Edwards.

Scientists at UNC’s Institute of Marine Science who run the ADCIRC models that predict storm surge levels for hurricanes say this system could bring 13-15 feet of storm surge and those totals jump even higher if the Hurricane stays at a Category 4.

Dr. Rick Luettich from UNC who runs these models explains, “We think about a building story as 10 feet and that’s a story and a half, and you know a ranch home would be completely underwater for the most part probably up to the peak of its roof and it probably wouldn’t be standing anymore because in addition to the storm surge itself then there will be waves on it.”

Now if the storm stays a powerful Category 4 Hurricane Dr. Luettich says to expect those storm surge totals to be even higher. ”We’ve done some what if scenarios that look at if it did get up to a category 4 how might that change things and it can add 2 to 3 feet on top of what is already likely to occur,” said Dr. Luettich.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast it brought storm surge totals as high as 30 feet. Hurricane Rita also hit the same region in 2005 that Hurricane Laura is now headed towards.

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