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Hurricane Laura could become strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. Here’s the latest

Hurricane Laura became a Category 4 storm on Wednesday night.

SHARE Hurricane Laura could become strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. Here’s the latest
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This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, at 4:50 p.m. EDT., and provided by NOAA, shows Hurricane Laura over the Gulf of Mexico.

AP

Hurricane Laura — which became a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday night and teased a change to a Category 5 storm — made landfall as a Category 4 storm overnight Thursday.

The storm — which will roar through Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas over the next several hours — could bring unparalleled damage to Louisiana and Texas as one of the strongest and most powerful hurricanes to make landfall in the United States.

The storm made landfall in southwestern Louisiana near the Texas border late Wednesday.

“This is a very serious storm,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in a briefing Wednesday. “In the five years I’ve been governor, I don’t believe I’ve had a press conference where it was my intention to convey the sense of urgency that I am trying to convey right now. Our state hasn’t seen a storm surge like this in many many decades.”


Latest updates:

  • There has been one reported fatality so far: a 14-year-old who died when a tree fell on her family’s home, NOLA.com reports.
  • A chemical fire burned in a facility near Lake Charles, NPR reports.
  • Satellite images showed lightning strikes across the storm, as I wrote for Deseret.com.
  • Members and missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints near Texas-Louisiana border are safe after early assessments, The Church News reports.
  • The storm is currently a Category 1 after making landfall last night with 100 miles per hour winds, which could grow overnight, according to The Associated Press.
  • The National Hurricane Center said the storm surge from Hurricane Laura is “unsurvivable ... with large and destructive waves.”
The eyewall of Laura is moving onshore over southwestern Louisiana. TAKE COVER NOW! Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to the safe room in your shelter. Take action now to protect your life — National Hurricane Center

  • Tornadoes are expected in Texas and Louisiana, Fox News reports.

Laura could be stronger than Katrina

Hurricane Laura may end up being stronger than Hurricane Katrina. Both storms were Category 5 hurricanes. However, Katrina became a Category 3 hurricane when it made landfall. Laura is on pace to be a Category 5 when it makes landfall, according to The New York Times.

  • “Katrina pushed a deadly storm surge that reached 28 feet in some places; when this met a poorly built flood protection system around New Orleans, most of the city was flooded and more than 1,800 people were killed,” The New York Times reported.

Looking ahead:

The storm could bring a storm surge, which is a “life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline in the indicated locations,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

  • “This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials,” according to National Hurricane Center..

Forecasts predict the storm — which has grown significantly in the last day — will weaken as it hits land, USA Today reports.

  • “We are expecting widespread power outages, trees down. Homes and businesses will be damaged,” said Donald Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Lake Charles, Louisiana, told USA Today.

Finding safety:

Texas cities — including Beaumont, Galveston and Port Arthur — called for more than 500,000 people to evacuate as the storm nears the state on Wednesday.

People have been turned away from a reception center in Austin, Texas, according to CBS News. People who fled from the hurricane were turned away after the center ran out of ventures.

The same thing happened in San Antonio. According to NBC News, long lines stretched outside of hotels as evacuees from the storm’s path sought refuge.

Support from the White House

Vice President Mike Pence reached out to all those who are in the storm’s path during the Republican National Convention Wednesday night. He said the federal government and FEMA will work to help Americans stay safe.

“Our prayers are with you tonight, and our administration is working closely with authorities in the states that will be impacted … this is a serious storm,” he said.