Hurricane Laura to hit coasts of Louisiana, Texas with force

Friday, 11 Sep, 2020

Hurricane Laura raked Louisiana early Thursday, becoming one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the state, with a storm surge, flash floods and devastating winds that could inflict more than US$15 billion in insured losses.

Destructive storm surge and damaging winds will affect areas near the site of landfall.

The first reported USA death from the storm was of a 14-year-old girl in Leesville, La., who was killed when a tree fell on her house, a spokeswoman for Gov. John Bel Edwards said. However, tornadoes are still possible over parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and western MS, the center said.

Hurricane Laura tore through Louisiana on Thursday, killing six people and flattening buildings across a wide swatch of the state before moving into Arkansas with heavy rains. That means there is extreme danger of flooding as rising water moves inland from the coast, the center said.

"Your property can be replaced", Abbott said. "The State of Texas is prepared to respond to the storm, and we are working alongside federal and local officials to keep Texans safe".

Laura made landfall just before 1 am (local time) as a Category 4 storm packing winds of 150 miles per hour (240 kph) in the small town of Cameron, Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Between five to 10 inches of rain are also expected over the region, the NHC said. "So people in northeast Texas, still need to remain very vigilant right now", Abbott said.

"This is a life-threatening situation". During the overnight hours, Laura is expected to continue to turn more to the north and then to the NNE on Thursday. A northeastward to east-northeastward motion is expected Thursday night and Friday.

With almost 470,000 homes and businesses without power in the two states, near-constant lightning provided the only light for some.

Oil producers on Tuesday had shut 1.56 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude output, or 84% of the Gulf of Mexico's production, evacuating 310 offshore facilities.

"There are some people still in town and people are calling. but there ain't no way to get to them", Tony Guillory, president of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, said early Thursday morning over the phone as he hunkered down in a Lake Charles government building that was shaking from the storm.

"National Guard says if you stayed home you better have tools to cut away an escape hatch from roof", reporter Greg Hilburn of Gannett tweeted. Land and structures are sure to be damaged along the way in both Texas and Louisiana, but large municipalities like Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Houston are likely to be spared this time. Late Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared public health emergencies in Texas and Louisiana.

Hurricane Laura is also an inland flood risk as far north and east as Arkansas and the OH and Tennessee valleys.

Early on Wednesday the NHC said satellite images had shown that Laura had undergone a remarkable intensification to become a "formidable hurricane".

CORRECTION (Aug. 27, 2020, 7:20 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of a Colorado State University atmospheric scientist.