At least 500,000 people have reportedly been told to evacuate ahead of Laura's touchdown in the southern U.S.

By Rachel DeSantis
August 26, 2020 11:34 AM

Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall on the Texas and Louisiana coasts as a possible Category 4 storm late Wednesday, bringing with it a “potentially catastrophic” and “life-threatening” storm surge.

Laura was about 225 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana and about 235 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas on Wednesday morning, prompting the National Hurricane Center to issue a public advisory warning residents that they were running out of time to get themselves to safety.

“Steps to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the next few hours,” the advisory said.

Laura’s maximum sustained winds increased to 125 mph, and it’s expected to continue strengthening from a Category 3 into a Category 4 hurricane until it eventually begins to weaken after making landfall.

Hurricane Laura
| Credit: AP/Shutterstock
Hurricane Laura
| Credit: AP/Shutterstock

A hurricane warning is in effect between San Luis Pass, Texas and Intracoastal City, Louisiana, and the storm will move inland near those areas either Wednesday night or Thursday morning, bringing hurricane-force winds and damaging wind gusts, the advisory said.

There are at least 20 million people in the storm’s path, and more than half a million have been ordered to evacuate, according to CBS News.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott both warned residents to take proper precautions and evacuate.

“You only have a few hours to prepare and evacuate for #HurricaneLaura,” Edwards tweeted Wednesday morning. “Wherever you are by noon is where you’ll have to ride out the storm. Be smart and be safe.”

In addition to extreme wind, Laura is also expected to bring rainfall of about 5 to 10 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches, across portions of the northwestern Gulf Coast from western Louisiana to far eastern Texas, and northward into much of Arkansas, the advisory said.

Light rain is expected in Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, while tornadoes are predicted to hit over Louisiana, far southeast Texas and southwestern Mississippi.

“Life-threatening storm surge with large & dangerous waves is expected to produce potentially catastrophic damage from San Luis Pass, TX, to the Mouth of the MS River, including areas inside the Port Arthur Hurricane Flood Protection system,” the National Weather Service said on Twitter. “It is critical to heed evacuation orders.”