SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - UPDATE: As of 11 p.m. from the National Hurricane Center Laura is now really starting to fire up. The pressure has dropped to 978 millibars and winds up to 90 mph.
All indications are that Laura is going to get stronger as it approaches the Texas and Louisiana coast late Wednesday night as it moves over water temperatures that are 88+ degrees.
Laura will not battle the strong shear that Marco had to face so the National Hurricane Center is thinking that it will get to category 3 status with 120 mph winds sustained and gust up to 150 at the time of landfall.
Now there is a chance it could weaken a little if it moves more toward the west into Texas in the last 6 hours prior to landfall. There is more shear as you head west and could limit it strength but things don’t look good for SE Texas or SW Louisiana at this time.
We will see strong waves generated with Laura which will move out from the center toward the Suncoast. A high surf advisory is in effect with waves expect to get up to 5 feet in height.
We could also see a few dangerous rip currents develop as a result of the waves crashing on area beaches.
The forecast for Wednesday calls for mostly sunny skies and continued hot here along the Suncoast. The heat index will once again be in the range from 105-110 in the afternoon through 6 p.m. A heat advisory will likely be issued from the National Weather Service on Wednesday morning.
We will see scattered storms in the afternoon and there will be a few more than we saw on Tuesday. The rain chance is at 40%. With winds out of the ESE at 10-15 mph there is a chance the sea breeze will be pinned close to the coast so expect a better chance on the beaches.
We will see generally sunny skies in the morning and then partly cloudy skies in the afternoon.
Thursday we will see a better chance for afternoon and evening thunderstorms as the southeasterly flow continues. The rain chance on Thursday is at 50%.
Friday we will start to see a shift in the winds again as winds generally start to turn more toward the S/SW and then west on Saturday.
This starts the pattern of morning storms near the coast over the weekend and into early next week.
Look for a pretty good weekend with the morning storms near the coast and then inland later in the day. The rain chance is at 50% and a high around 90.
For boaters on Wednesday expect mostly sunny skies and winds out of the E/SE at 10-15 kts. and seas running 3-4 feet in the Gulf and 2 foot waves in the Sarasota bay.