Hurricane Laura Makes Landfall in U.S. as a Category 4 Storm, Bringing 'Unsurvivable' Storm Surge
Hurricane Laura made landfall in the United States at 2 a.m. on Thursday morning after prompting dire warnings that areas of coastal Texas and Louisiana should brace for an “unsurvivable” storm surge.
The storm touched down as a Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph but weakened to a Category 3 storm by 5 a.m. with 120 mph winds, the National Hurricane Center said in a public advisory.
More than 103,000 people in Texas and nearly 400,000 people in Lousiana are without power following Laura's landfall, according to PowerOutage.us.
The forceful hurricane is expected to move across southwestern Louisiana throughout the morning, and then continue northward with Laura's center forecast to move over Arkansas tonight followed by the Laumid-Mississippi Valley on Friday, and the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday, according to the NHC.
Laura is also slated to weaken even more, becoming a tropical storm by the end of the day.
But despite weakening, the NHC reported that the storm is still expected to drop heavy rains which will cause widespread flash flooding across portions of the northwestern Gulf Coast from western Louisiana to far eastern Texas, and northward into much of Arkansas, the hurricane center said.
Along with hurricane-force winds, the Gulf states could each receiving about 6 to 12 inches of rainfall and tornadoes are also predicted to hit over Louisiana, far southeast Texas and southwestern Mississippi.
The landfall came just hours after the center issued warnings that Laura was “extremely dangerous,” and would bring “catastrophic” storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding along the northwest Gulf Coast.
“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,” an advisory from the center read. “This storm surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline in southwestern Louisiana and far southeastern Texas.”
The storm prompted evacuations of more than half a million people, CBS News reported.
On Wednesday at 11 p.m. ET, the hurricane center said Laura was traveling around 15 mph with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph after being upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane that afternoon.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents in affected areas to evacuate as soon as possible, or risk being stuck in their homes.
"For people who make the decision to stay, the worst thing you can do is when that storm really starts beating at your door, at one or two o'clock in the morning, is to decide, 'I'm going to leave now,'" he said. "Because that would be the absolute worst decision you could make at that point, because the transportation on ground level will be ultra-hazardous, more hazardous than you staying in your home. Which is why we need people to start evacuating now.