Liberty County Judge Jay Knight isn’t breathing a sigh of relief just yet. While the worst of Hurricane Laura will skirt past Liberty County, Knight is still concerned for the county’s neighbors to the east in Jefferson, Hardin, Newton, Jasper and Orange counties, and southwestern Louisiana.
“There is always wiggle room for this storm, but we think it is going to pass us by. Our main threat is going to be wind damage,” said Knight, having just wrapped up a briefing from the National Weather Service in Houston.
“From 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. tonight, we will see the highest winds. The winds should start increasing today at around 8 p.m. They are expected to be in the 50-60 mile per hour range,” Knight said.
While emergency officials will be on standby and ready to respond to calls for help, Knight says that when the winds reach the 50-60 mile per hour range, they will not be able to respond. Residents may be on their own for a little while until the dangerous winds have passed through the area.
In order to keep people off the roads and safe at their homes, Knight is activating a curfew from 8 p.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Thursday.
“That’s mostly to slow down the amateur first responders,” he said.
Hurricane Laura is now forecast to be a Category 4 at landfall, according to a report shared by Dan Reilly with the National Weather Service in Houston. At his 10:30 a.m. briefing with officials across the Greater Houston Area, including Liberty County Office of Emergency Management, Reilly provided information to show that the storm will still impact Southeast Texas but not as severe as near and right of the center track of the storm.
For those near and right of the storm, the forecast includes deadly winds and a storm surge. The landfall is expected to be around Sabine Pass or the far southwest Louisiana coast. Southeast Texas will be on the western fringe of the storm with main impacts from tropical storm force winds and hurricane force wind gusts, according to information from the briefing.
Currently, the storm is a Category 3 with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour. This will intensify to 145 miles per hour, gusting to 170 miles per hour before landfall. The strength of the storm will cause tropical storm force winds to be felt as much as 100 miles inland.
The wind threat extends well inland as the storm pushes through the area. The most likely arrival time of tropical storm winds would be Wednesday evening.