Hurricane Laura made landfall along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. early Thursday morning with sustained winds of 150 mph, leaving more than 500,000 households without power in western Louisiana and eastern Texas, where 1.5 million people were issued evacuation orders of some sort. The storm intensified as it churned through the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and Wednesday, strengthening before hitting land around 2 a.m. in Louisiana. The National Weather Service declared the Category 4 hurricane capable of creating an “unsurvivable storm surge” in parts of the two states, carrying with it the potential for “catastrophic wind damage.” The intensity of Hurricane Laura’s winds make it one of the strongest storms to ever hit the U.S.
“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,” the National Weather Service said in a statement early Thursday. “This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline. Only a few hours remain to protect life and property and all actions should be rushed to completion.”
The surge of water up to 20 feet was predicted to sweep through the affected area, but Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told CNN that the surge had not been as bad as expected and that most of the damage so far was wind-related. Within two hours of making landfall, the storm weakened to a Category 2 hurricane as it moved inland throughout the morning. The storm is currently moving steadily north at 15 mph and is expected weaken enough to be downgraded to a tropical storm as it passes through northern Louisiana this afternoon and into Arkansas overnight.
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