Hurricane Laura: Storm strength near Category 5; ‘unsurvivable’ storm surge expected for parts of Louisiana, Texas

Tropical Storm Laura became a major Category 4 hurricane Wednesday as it continued to churn toward the Gulf Coast, according to officials with the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 10:57 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: Hurricane Laura moved closer to the northwest Gulf coast with “catastrophic” storm surges, extreme winds and flash flooding expected late Wednesday and early Thursday.

In its 11 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Laura was still maintaining maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it moved north-northwest at 15 mph. The first major hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season was located about 75 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 75 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

Tropical storm force winds were already beginning to be felt along the Texas coast near the Louisiana border.

The hurricane center said Laura is expected to make landfall along the southwest Louisiana coast “within the next few hours” and will move inland early Thursday. The storm is expected to take a turn to the north and then head northeast by Thursday night.

The National Hurricane Center will issue an intermediate advisory at 2 a.m. EDT Thursday.

Update 10:07 EDT Aug. 26: Hurricane Laura continued to bear down on the Texas-Louisiana border with winds of 150 mph.

The National Hurricane Center said the center of the strong Category 4 storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. The center of the storm was located 90 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 90 miles south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas. The storm is moving north-northwest at 15 mph.

Laura could become a Category 5 storm when the National Hurricane Center issues its 11 p.m. EDT advisory.

Update 7:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: Hurricane Laura, already a powerful storm, moved closer to becoming a Category 5 storm as it barreled closer to the Texas-Louisiana coast.

In its 8 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Laura had maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and was moving north-northwest at 15 mph. The center of the Atlantic season’s first major hurricane was located 120 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana and 120 miles south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

A Category 5 storm is a hurricane that has maximum sustained winds of 156 mph or higher.

The hurricane center said the storm is expected to hit the coast overnight and storm surges have been described as extremely dangerous.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center of the storm and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles

The next advisory by the National Hurricane Center will be issued at 11 p.m. EDT.

Update 5:01 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: “Extremely dangerous” Hurricane Laura, the first major storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, continued to churn menacingly toward the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

The National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. advistory placed the center of Laura about 155 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 155 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas. The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 145 mph as it continued to move northwest at 15 mph.

Laura will approach the upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts Wednesday evening and move inland. The center of Laura is forecast to move over northwestern Louisiana on Thursday, across Arkansas Thursday night, and over the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday.

The National Hurricane Center will issue an intermediate advisory at 8 p.m. EDT.

Update 4 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: Officials with the NHC said water levels have begun to rise along the coast of Louisiana as Hurricane Laura nears the Gulf Coast.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shared videos Wednesday of the massive Category 4 storm as seen from the sky.

Update 3:50 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: Officials with the American Red Cross said in a statement obtained Wednesday by CNN that the organization has deployed more than 600 disaster workers in Louisiana and Texas as Hurricane Laura churns toward the Gulf Coast.

The humanitarian group sheltered more than 5,000 people Tuesday night, according to CNN.

“Over the past few days our volunteers have been working tirelessly to position supplies and shelter teams across the state,” American Red Cross Louisiana Regional Executive Joshua Joachim said in the statement.

“As the storms shift, we shift with them and remain prepared to meet the immediate needs of those impacted across Louisiana.”

Laura is expected to bring “unsurvival storm surge” to parts of Louisiana and Texas, forecasters with the NHC warned Wednesday morning.

Update 1:50 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: Laura strengthened Wednesday afternoon to become a powerful Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, according to the NHC.

Forecasters warned in an early 2 p.m. advisory that “some additional strengthening is possible this afternoon,” though Laura is expected to remain a Category 4 storm.

Update 1:15 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: The National Weather Service shared a view of Hurricane Laura from space on Wednesday as the powerful storm continued to spin toward a portion of the Gulf Coast.

Forecasters with NWS warned that the storm, which is expected to strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall Wednesday night, will bring “unsurvivable storm urge, hurricane force winds and widespread flash flooding” to parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday warned state residents to take the storm seriously in a news conference Wednesday.

“The further south you live and the further southwest you are the stronger the impacts,” he said.

“For those people in central and north Louisiana, especially on the west side of our state, I don’t know the last time you’ve seen a storm come ashore that is going to basically have hurricane-force winds associated with it until it exits Louisiana, which will be about 12 to 14 hours after it makes landfall at 1 o’clock on Thursday morning.”

Update 12:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his administration “remains fully engaged with state (and) local emergency managers” as Hurricane Laura barrels toward the Gulf Coast.

“Hurricane Laura is a very dangerous and rapidly intensifying hurricane,” Trump said in a social media post, adding to residents of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, "We are with you!"


Officials with the NHC warned Wednesday that Laura could bring “unsurvivable storm surge with large destructive winds” to parts of Texas and Louisiana. Coastal portions of Mississippi have also been placed under a storm surge watch.

Update 11:15 a.m. EDT Aug. 26: Hurricane Laura strengthened slightly Wednesday morning with maximum sustained winds at 125 mph, though it remained a Category 3 storm, according to the NHC.

Forecasters said Laura is expected to strengthen into “an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane” by Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, the center of the storm is forecast to move over northwestern Louisiana and across Arkansas before reaching the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday.

“Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes,” NHC officials said in a social media post Wednesday. “This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline.”

Officials said in an 11 a.m. advisory that tropical-storm-force winds are likely to arrive along the Gulf Coast within the next few hours.

Update 8:12 a.m. EDT Aug. 26: With maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, Hurricane Laura has been upgraded to a Category 3 storm, expected to bring potentially catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding along the northwest Gulf Coast Wednesday night.

In its 8 a.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the eye of Laura was located 280 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 290 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas. The storm is moving northwest at 15 mph, and is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 later in the day.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting the storm will make landfall as a major hurricane late Wednesday or early Thursday.

A shift to the north-northwest is expected later tonight, meaning Laura will approach the upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts this evening and move inland overnight and weaken rapidly.

Update 5:26 a.m. EDT Aug. 26: Hurricane Laura’s intensification continued overnight with maximum sustained winds reaching 110 mph by 5 a.m. EDT, placing it right on the cusp of being upgraded to a Category 3 storm.

A hurricane becomes a Category 3 storm when maximum sustained winds reach 111 mph and a Category 4 storm when they reach 130 mph.

Laura is forecast to produce life-threatening storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding over eastern Texas and Louisiana later today. The storm’s forward speed has decreased slightly and has shifted to a more northwesterly track.

In its 5 a.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the eye of Laura was located 315 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 335 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas. The storm is moving northwest at 15 mph, and the hurricane center is predicting the storm will make landfall as a major hurricane late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Update 3:05 a.m. EDT Aug. 26: Hurricane Laura is intensifying rapidly as it crosses the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and approached Category 3 strength early Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.

A hurricane becomes a Category 3 storm when maximum sustained winds reach 111 mph.

In its 2 a.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the eye of Laura was located 360 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 380 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas. The storm is moving west-northwest at 17 mph, and the hurricane center is predicting the storm will make landfall as a major hurricane late Wednesday or early Thursday.

There have been no changes to issued watches and warnings associated with Hurricane Laura.

Update 10:57 p.m. EDT Aug. 25: Hurricane Laura moved closer to becoming a Category 2 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 90 mph as it moved through the central Gulf of Mexico.

A hurricane becomes a Category 2 storm when maximum sustained winds reach 96 mph.

In its 11 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the eye of Laura was located 405 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 430 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas. The storm is moving west-northwest at 17 mph, and the hurricane center is predicting the storm will make landfall as a major hurricane late Wednesday or early Thursday.

A hurricane warning remains in effect from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. A tropical storm warning is in effect from San Luis Pass to Sargent, Texas, and from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

A storm surge warning is still in effect from San Luis Pass to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The National Hurricane Center said the surge could be as high as 9 to 13 above ground level and could penetrate as far as 30 miles inland.

The National Hurricane Center will issue an intermediate advisory at 2 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

Update 7:58 p.m. EDT Aug. 25: Hurricane Laura continued to grow stronger as it churned in the central Gulf of Mexico and took aim at the Louisiana-Texas coast.

In its 8 p.m. intermediate advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Laura had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph as its moved west-northwest at 17 mph. The eye of the strong Category 1 storm was located 435 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 465 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas.

The hurricane center said “significant strengthening” was expected over the next 36 hours.

A hurricane warning remains in effect from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. A tropical storm warning is in effect from San Luis Pass to Sargent, Texas, and from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

A storm surge warning is still in effect from San Luis Pass to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The National Hurricane Center said the surge could be as high as 9 to 13 above ground level and could penetrate as far as 30 miles inland.

The National Hurricane Center will issue its next advisory at 11 p.m. EDT.

Update 5:20 p.m. EDT Aug. 25: Hurricane Laura is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane before it makes landfall Wednesday or Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm continues to strengthen, with the hurricane center reporting that maximum sustained winds have reached 80 mph. At 5 p.m.EDT, the center of Laura was located about 480 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 510 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas.

A hurricane warning is in effect from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. A tropical storm warning is in effect from San Luis Pass to Sargent, Texas, and from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

A storm surge warning is in effect from San Luis Pass to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The National Hurricane Center said the surge could be as high as 9 to 13 above ground level and could penetrate as far as 30 miles inland.

The National Hurricane Center will issue an intermediate advisory at 8 p.m. EDT.

Update 2:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 25: Forecasters with the NHC said Hurricane Laura continued to spin with maximum sustained winds around 75 mph on Tuesday afternoon.

The storm, which is currently a Category 1 storm, is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane Wednesday night, officials said.

Update 11:15 a.m. EDT Aug. 25: Hurricane conditions are expected beginning Wednesday evening from San Luis Pass, Texas, to west of Morgan City, Louisiana as Laura continues to spin toward the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, according to the NHC.

Hurricane Laura was about 585 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana by 11 a.m. Tuesday with maximum sustained winds measured around 75 mph, officials said. Officials said the center of Laura will move across the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday before approaching the upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts by Wednesday night.

Update 8:25 a.m. EDT Aug. 25: Laura has officially become a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning.

Update 8 a.m. EDT Aug. 25: Tropical Storm Laura is just below hurricane strength and is forecast to become a major hurricane over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning.

In its 8 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, was about 145 miles northwest of the western tip of Cuba and 625 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana. It was moving west-northwest at 17 mph.

A storm surge watch was in effect for San Luis Pass, Texas, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, as well as Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Lake Borgne. Meanwhile, a hurricane watch was in effect for San Luis Pass to west of Morgan City, Louisiana. A tropical storm remained in effect for several Cuban provinces and Dry Tortugas, while a tropical storm watch was in effect for San Luis Pass to Freeport, Texas, and Morgan City to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Read the full advisory here.

Update 5:14 a.m. EDT Aug. 25: Tropical Storm Laura is now forecast to become a major hurricane over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said early Tuesday.

In its 5 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, was about 85 miles northwest of the western tip of Cuba and 680 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana. It was moving west-northwest at 17 mph.

Forecasters changed a tropical storm watch from south of Port Bolivar to San Luis Pass to a hurricane watch. In addition, a tropical storm watch was issued from San Luis Pass to Freeport, Texas. A tropical storm warning for the Florida Keys from the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West has been discontinued.

Read the full advisory here.

Update 2:09 a.m. EDT Aug. 25: Tropical Storm Laura is becoming better organized over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and is expected to become a hurricane later today, the National Hurricane Center said early Tuesday.

In its 2 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, was about 50 miles north of the western tip of Cuba and 765 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Storm surge watches are in effect for San Luis Pass, Texas, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, as well as Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Lake Borgne. A hurricane watch is in effect for Port Bolivar, Texas, to west of Morgan City, Louisiana. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for several Cuban provinces, the Florida Keys from the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, and Dry Tortugas. In addition, tropical storm watches are in effect for south of Port Bolivar to San Luis Pass, Texas, as well as Morgan City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Read more here.

Update 11:15 p.m. EDT Aug. 24: Tropical Storm Laura continued to gain steam Monday night as its rains pounded western Cuba and maximum sustained winds reached 65 mph by 11 p.m.

Heavy rains and flash flooding are expected to continue overnight across western Cuba, and Laura is forecast to become a hurricane during the day Tuesday.

At 11 p.m. Monday, the storm’s center was located about 80 miles northeast of the western tip of Cuba and about 765 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Laura could be near major hurricane strength when it approaches the Gulf Coast later this week.

The storm continues to move west-northwest at 20 mph and is expected to approach the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday night.

The tropical storm warning issued earlier for the middle Florida Keys has been discontinued.

Update 7:14 p.m. EDT Aug. 24: With maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, Tropical Storm Laura passed near the Isle of Youth late Monday afternoon, or about 175 miles east of the western tip of Cuba.

A storm surge watch has been issued for areas between San Luis Pass, Texas, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi, while a hurricane watch is in effect from Port Bolivar, Texas, to west of Morgan City, Louisiana.

Laura is moving toward the west-northwest at 20 mph. Although a decrease in forward speed is forecast over the next two days, the storm is expected to continue moving in this direction until taking a turn toward the northwest on Wednesday.

Laura’s center is forecast to cross western Cuba tonight before moving into the central and northwestern Gulf of Mexico before morning. The storm is expected to approach the Gulf’s northwestern coast by Wednesday night.

Laura is expected to continue strengthening steadily and reach hurricane strength by late Tuesday, followed by additional strengthening Wednesday.

Tropical-storm-force winds currently extend up to 175 miles from Laura’s center.

Update 2 p.m. EDT Aug. 24: The center of Tropical Storm Laura was moving near Cara Lago, Cuba at 2 p.m. Monday with maximum sustained winds steady at around 50 mph, according to the NHC.

The storm is expected to strengthen as it moves over the Gulf of Mexico with forecasters predicting it will reach hurricane-strength some time Tuesday.

Update 11:05 a.m. EDT Aug. 24: Tropical Storm Laura continued to drop heavy rain over Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and parts of Cuba and it crawled toward the U.S. on Monday, according to the NHC.

Officials said Laura was about 65 miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo, Cuba, as of 11 a.m. Tuesday and moving toward the west-northwest at about 20 mph. Forecasters expect the storm to approach the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Mexico by Wednesday night.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for several areas, including the Florida Keys from Craig Key to Key West.

Update 7:57 a.m. EDT Aug. 24: Tropical Storm Laura is moving west-northwestward just south of the coast of central Cuba, the National Hurricane Center reported Monday morning.

In its 8 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, was about 125 miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo and 205 miles east-southeast of the Isle of Youth. It was moving west-northwest at 21 mph.

Tropical storm warnings remained in effect for Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, several Cuban provinces, Dry Tortugas and the Florida Keys from Craig Key to Key West.

Read more here.

Update 5:17 a.m. EDT Aug. 24: Tropical Storm Laura sparked a tropical storm warning for parts of the Florida Keys as it brought heavy rains to eastern Cuba and Jamaica, the National Hurricane Center reported early Monday.

In its 5 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, was about 175 miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo and 255 miles east-southeast of the Isle of Youth. It was moving west-northwest at 21 mph.

A tropical storm warning was issued for the middle and lower Florida Keys from Craig Key westward to Key West, the advisory said. Tropical storm warnings remained in effect for Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, several Cuban provinces and Dry Tortugas.

Read more here.

Update 2:08 a.m. EDT Aug. 24: Tropical Storm Laura moved back over the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea as heavy rainfall continued over eastern Cuba and Jamaica early Monday, the National Hurricane Center reported.

In its 2 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, was about 60 miles south of Camaguey, Cuba, and 235 miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo, Cuba. It was moving north-northwest at 21 mph.

Tropical storm warnings remained in effect for Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, several Cuban provinces and Dry Tortugas.

Read the full advisory here.

Update 11:42 p.m. EDT Aug. 23: Tropical Storm Laura strengthened a little late Sunday as heavy rains continued to pound eastern Cuba and Jamaica, weather experts said.

The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, is moving toward the west-northwest at about 21 mph. According to the National Weather Service, this general motion is expected to continue with some decrease in forward speed over the next few days, but a turn toward the northwest is forecast by Wednesday.

According to the forecast track, Laura will move near or over Cuba’s coast tonight and Monday before moving to the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Monday night and Tuesday.

Laura is forecast to become a hurricane by early Tuesday, and tropical-storm-force winds currently extend outward up to 140 miles from the storm’s center.

Update 7:18 p.m. EDT Aug. 23: With maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, Tropical Storm Laura is expected to move near or over the coast of southern Cuba tonight and Monday, before moving over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico Monday night and Tuesday, weather experts said.

At 5 p.m. EDT Sunday, the storm was moving nearly 21 mph toward the west-northwest, with this general motion but reduced forward speed expected over the next several days. A turn toward the north-northwest is forecast by Wednesday, brining the storm over the central and northwestern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and Wednesday. At that point, strengthening is expected with Laura forecast to become a hurricane late Tuesday or Tuesday night.

According to the National Weather Service, tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles from the storm’s center.

The largest threat forecast at landfall Wednesday appears to be heavy rainfall, expected to total 15 inches in isolated spots across portions of the west-central U.S. Gulf Coast near the Texas and Louisiana border.

In Sunday remarks from the White House briefing room, U.S. President Donald Trump called the “scope” of Hurricane Marco potentially striking the Louisiana coast less than 24 hours of the expected Hurricane Laura “somewhat unprecedented.”

He asked all residents in affected areas to heed the advice of state and local leaders as the meteorological oddity approaches.

“FEMA is mobilized and on the ground. They will be in there very quickly,” Trump said.

Update 11:41 a.m. EDT Aug. 23: Tropical Storm Laura continues swirling over the Dominican Republic and Haiti as it continues to threaten Cuba, weather officials said.

The storm system has 50 mph maximum sustained winds and is forecast to become a hurricane sometime Tuesday.

A tropical storm warning along the south coast of the Dominican Republic has been discontinued.

Other warning and watches for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas remain in effect.

Update 11:41 a.m. EDT Aug. 23: Tropical Storm Laura continues to pummel the Dominican Republic and parts of Haiti with torrential rainfall and life-threatening flash floods, weather officials said.

The storm system has 50 mph maximum sustained winds and is heading west northwest at 21 mph.

Cuba has issued a tropical storm warning for Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth.

Update 7:56 a.m. EDT Aug. 23: Tropical Storm Laura could drop as much as a foot of rain as it passes over the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, weather officials said.

The torrential rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides across the Greater Antilles.

The system ha 45 mph maximum sustained winds and is moving west north west at 18 mph.

Tropical storm warnings are still in effect for the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. A tropical storm watch is still in effect for the central Bahamas, Andros Islands, Florida Keys, Florida Bay and the Cuban province of Pinar Del Rio.

Update 10:56 p.m. EDT Aug. 22: Tropical Storm Laura continued to dump heavy rains as it moved over the Dominican Republic.

The National Hurricane Center, in its 11 a.m. EDT advisory, said the center of Laura was located about 25 miles southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The storm is still maintaining maximum sustained winds of 50 mph as it moves west-northwest at 16 mph.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the center of Laura will move across the island of Hispaniola early Sunday, near or over Cuba on Sunday and Monday, and over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico Monday night and Tuesday.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to Key West and for the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay. The central Bahamas and Andros Island are also under a tropical storm watch. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Puerto Rico, the northern and southern coasts of the Dominican Republic, and the southeastern Bahamas.

The National Hurricane Center will issue intermediate advisories at 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Saturday, with a full advisory at 5 a.m.

Update 8:06 p.m. EDT Aug. 22: Tropical Storm Laura is approaching the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic, dumping heavy rains on the island and also on Puerto Rico.

In its 8 p.m. EDT intermediate advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the center of Laura had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was moving west at 18 mph. The center of the storm was located 135 miles east-southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to Key West and for the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay. The government of Cuba has issued a tropical storm warning for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Las Tunas, Holguin, Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Granma.

Tropical storm warnings remain in effect for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the northern and southern coasts of the Dominican Republic.

The National Hurricane Center will issue its next full advisory at 11 p.m. EDT.

Update 4:58 p.m. EDT Aug. 22: Tropical Storm Laura continued to dump heavy rains on Puerto Rico as it headed toward the Dominican Republic.

In it’s 5 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said that Laura had gained strength, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. The center of the storm was located 100 miles west of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and 125 miles east-southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

A tropical storm watch was issued for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to Key West and for the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay. The government of Cuba has issued a tropical storm warning for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Las Tunas, Holguin, Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Granma.

The National Hurricane Center will issue an intermediate advisory at 8 p.m. EDT.

Update 2:06 p.m. EDT Aug. 22: Tropical Storm Laura has slightly increased wind strength, forecasters said.

The system has increased its maximum sustained winds to 45 mph with higher gusts.

“These winds are occurring mainly in a band to the south of Vieques and eastern Puerto Rico,” weather officials said.

The storm is about 40 miles west south west of Ponce, Puerto Rico. It is moving at 18 mph.

Update 11:06 a.m. EDT Aug. 22: Tropical Storm Laura is dropping heavy rain on Puerto Rico, weather officials said.

The storm is moving west at 18 mph. Its 40 mph maximum sustained winds are expected to strengthen over the next few days.

Cuba has issued a tropical storm watch for Las Tunas, Holguin, Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba and Granma.

The tropical storm warning is discontinued for St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and the British Virgin Islands.

Update 7:53 a.m. EDT Aug. 22: The disorganized storm continues its track toward Eastern Puerto Rico, weather officials said.

Tropical Storm Laura is about 50 miles from San Juan with 40 mph maximum sustained winds. The storm is moving west at around 21 mph as it continues to slowly strengthen.

A tropical storm warning for Saba and St. Eustatius has ended. Previous warning and watches are still in effect.

Update 11:01 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Tropical Storm Laura lost some of its organization late Friday but continued to move westward. In its 11 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Laura continued to maintain maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving toward the west-northwest at 18 mph.

The center of the storm was located about 195 miles east-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A tropical storm warning has been extended to the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the hurricane center said. Tropical storm warnings remain in effect for parts of Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra; the U.S. Virgin Islands; the British Virgin Islands; St. Maarten; St. Martin and St. Barthelemy; the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the border with Haiti; and the northern coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicholas to the border with the Dominican Republic

The National Hurricane Center will issue an intermediate advisory at 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Saturday, with a full advisory issued at 5 a.m.

Update 8:08 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Tropical Storm Laura continued its westward movement, passing through the northern Leeward Islands on Friday night. According to the National Hurricane Center’s 8 p.m. EDT intermediate advisory, the strength and forward speed of the storm remained the same. Laura was packing maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west at 17 mph.

At 8 p.m., the center of the storm was located 250 miles east-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for parts of Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra; the U.S. Virgin Islands; the British Virgin Islands; St. Maarten, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, and Montserrat. Also included in the warnings are the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the border with Haiti, and the northern coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicholas to the border with the Dominican Republic.

The next full advisory by the National Hurricane Center will be issued at 11 p.m. EDT.

Update 4:57 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Tropical Storm Laura continued on its westward movement late Friday afternoon, maintaining maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. The National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. EDT advisory placed the eye of the 12th-named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season 40 miles east of Antigua. Laura was moving at 17 mph.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for parts of Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra; the U.S. Virgin Islands; the British Virgin Islands; St. Maarten, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, and Montserrat. Also included in the warnings are the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the border with Haiti, and the northern coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicholas to the border with the Dominican Republic.

The National Hurricane Center will issue an intermediate advisory at 8 p.m. EDT.

Update 2:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Tropical Storm Laura continued to crawl westward Friday afternoon with maximum sustained winds measured at 45 mph, according to forecasters with the NHC.

Officials said the center of the storm is expected to move near or over parts of the Leeward Islands later Friday and be at or over Puerto Rico by Saturday morning.

Update 11:35 a.m. EDT Aug. 21: A tropical storm warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, Culebra and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Tropical Storm Laura continues to spin near the northern Leeward Islands, officials said in an 11 a.m. update Friday.

The storm was moving toward the west at 18 mph Friday morning and, as of 11 a.m., was about 210 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands.

Original report: Officials said the storm, which has maximum sustained winds measured around 45 mph, was about 230 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands as of 9:05 a.m. EDT.

Forecasters with the NHC said in a 5 a.m. forecast discussion that Laura could “bring some storm surge, rainfall and wind impacts to portions of Hispaniola, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Florida this weekend and early next.” However, officials warned that it remained too early to say more for certain.

“The details of the long-range track and intensity forecasts are more uncertain than usual since the system could move over portions of the Greater Antilles this weekend,” according to the NHC.

Tropical storm conditions were possible later Friday through Saturday night across parts of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The storm is the earliest L-storm to form in the Atlantic. Previously, the earliest L-storm to form in the area was Hurricane Luis, which formed August 29, 1995, according to Spectrum News.

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