As the storm approaches the East Texas and Louisiana coasts, Hurricane Laura has intensified to a Category 4 storm on Wednesday afternoon with wind speeds of 140 mph.
At the current rate, Laura is expected to be the most destructive storm this hurricane season and is the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the state since Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
On Wednesday morning, an advisory published by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that, “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. This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline.”
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in several Texas localities in the storm’s path, including the cities of Galveston and Port Arthur, and the counties of Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Newton, and Orange.
Voluntary evacuations have been recommended in several other areas, as listed on the Texas Hurricane Center from the governor’s office alongside other resources for those affected.
“Some additional strengthening is possible this afternoon, and Laura is forecast to remain a category 4 hurricane through landfall tonight. Rapid weakening is expected after Laura makes over land,” reads an advisory published by the National Hurricane Center at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
An update published at 3:00 p.m. noted that coastal water levels in Texas are beginning to rise.
“A National Ocean Service water level station at Sabine Pass, Texas, recently reported about 2.3 feet of inundation above ground level,” said the update.
The most recent NHC advisory published at 4:00 p.m. stated, “On the forecast track, Laura will approach the Upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts this evening and move inland within that area tonight. The center of Laura is forecast to move over northwestern Louisiana tomorrow, across Arkansas Thursday night, and over the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.