| Weather |

Laura Still a Threat to Greater Houston Area

Houston is on the far edge of the cone of uncertainty, but we aren't out of the woods yet.
Houston is on the far edge of the cone of uncertainty, but we aren't out of the woods yet.
National Hurricane Center
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Weather forecast models perform incredibly complex tasks. When you consider that within less than three days, the margin of error in a forecast track is less than 150 miles, that is impressive given all the factors involved in such calculations. But models don't always agree and when one of the most respected of those happens to be an outlier in a forecast, people pay attention.

Such is the case with current Tropical Storm Laura. As of writing this, Laura was traversing the far western end of Cuba headed for the Gulf of Mexico, where it will undoubtedly become a hurricane relatively early in the day on Tuesday. From there, it will traverse the Gulf just to the south of a ridge of high pressure that is pushing to the west at the same time.

For the uninitiated, hurricanes typically cannot move into areas of high pressure, especially if they are fairly strong like this one. As a result, they travel around the periphery looking for a weak spot to make a turn to the north where they are naturally drawn.

As Laura moves across the Gulf, there don't appear to be any significant impediments to its development and intensification. Intensity modeling ranges from a category 1 to a category 4 hurricane at landfall. The National Hurricane Center, which is predicting steady intensification for Laura, believes it could be near or at major hurricane strength when it makes landfall in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Now, back to that forecast track. At the moment, Houston is on the far western edge of the NHC's "cone of uncertainty," which covers all of extreme eastern Texas and western Louisiana. That cone will shrink as the storm gets closer, but there is still quite a bit of uncertainty thanks to the European forecast model.

The Euro is one of the most respected forecasts when it comes to both climate and hurricanes. As of now, it still shows a pretty wide spread ranging from the coastal bend area of the Texas coast all the way to the Texas-Louisiana border. The other reliable forecast models have all bunched fairly tightly together around a spot just east of Texas in extreme western Louisiana, but not the Euro.

Now, that could change overnight and into tomorrow. The closer we get, the better the guidance becomes and the narrower that cone. If the other models remain consistent and the Euro makes a shift east — it already shifted a bit that way on its Monday evening run — we can start to have more confidence that Houston will escape a direct hit.

But, if it remains west and south and some of the other models begin to adjust with it, we could be in the direct path of a large and dangerous storm.

By the time you read this, we may actually have more clarity and we will continue to update things as we get more information. But, for now, be aware that while we are close to being in the clear, we aren't there yet.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.