Hurricane Laura's projection models shifted slightly west overnight, bringing its likely landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday closer to Brazoria County.
A strong storm surge warning is in effect from San Luis Pass to the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the National Weather Service. Laura is expected to come ashore as a Category 3 hurricane.
County Judge Matt Sebesta issued a voluntary evacuation order Tuesday morning, according to a news release. The order specifically addresses low-lying coastal communities outside the protection levee, but all residents need to continue to watch Hurricane Laura closely, the release states. The county will continue to provide updates on its website and on social media.
Hurricane conditions are expected from San Luis Pass to west of Morgan City, Louisiana, by Wednesday evening.
"Actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion today, as water levels will begin to rise Wednesday," the weather service said in its 10 a.m. update.
Tuesday morning seemed relatively calm in Surfside Beach, its mayor said.
“It’s gonna be a beautiful day,” Surfside Beach Mayor Larry Davison said.
They’re taking preparations ahead of the storm, however. Officials have placed materials in front of road entrances to protect the streets against the possibility of a storm surge, and all port-a-cans, trash and any kind of debris that can float has been removed from the beach, Davison said. An evacuation order has not been issued for the city, but that is under the jurisdiction of Brazoria County, Davison said.
“I certainly think if anybody has any concerns and is worried, they should definitely — for their own peace of mind — leave,” Davison said. “Any worries or fears ... They would have less if they weren’t down here during the storm.”
Surfside beaches are closed to vehicular traffic, and will remain so until officials feel more comfortable and decide that it’s safe, he said. Residents in low-lying areas are advised to move their vehicles and golf carts.
“We had a tropical storm 15 years ago or so that never even came onshore,” he said. “One hundred vehicles in Surfside got towed out of here because we were caught off guard.”
A storm surge of three to five feet isn’t a problem, but four to six feet leads to “some major” road coverages, Davison said.
County beaches will be closed to vehicular traffic as of noon Tuesday, county officials announced.
While the city of Surfside is responsible for the beaches during incidents such as this one, while public safety and the general population “all goes to county judges,” and officials have been communicating with Sebesta, Davison said.