Hurricane Laura made landfall at 1 a.m. ET Thursday, with extreme winds and an expected catastrophic” storm surge in parts of Texas and Louisiana, consistent with the National Hurricane Center.
The center said Laura is an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane, now with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph — just 7 mph in need of Category 5 classification. that might make Laura the fourth Category 4 storm to strike Louisiana in modern history.
Most forecasts initially predicted Laura’s intensity would reach a Category 2 or 3 storm. But the hurricane ramped up quickly since the beginning of the week, intensifying by 65 miles per hour in one 24-hour period.
Laura is that the tenth hurricane to form landfall within the continental U.S. with winds of 150 miles per hour or higher since modern record keeping began in 1851. last , Hurricane Michael in 2018 had an intensity of 160 miles per hour when it made landfall in Florida.
While most storms tend to weaken before landfall, three storms in recent years have continued to strengthen as they approach the shore: Harvey in Texas in 2017, Michael, and now Laura.
The storm is forecast to maneuver inland overnight Wednesday and farther into northwestern Louisiana on Thursday. From there, it’ll head across Arkansas and over the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday.
The National Hurricane Center said storm surge — the increase in seawater caused by a storm — and tropical storm-force winds will arrive well beforehand of the storm’s center, which “all preparations to guard life and property should be rushed to completion within the next few hours.”
It is also warning of an “unsurvivable” storm surge with massive waves which will cause significant damage from Sea Rim State Park in Texas to Intracoastal City, La. The surge could affect areas up to 40 miles inland and dump floodwaters to the world which will not recede for days.
Sporadic tornadoes also are expected on Wednesday night over Louisiana, far southeast Texas and southwestern Mississippi.
As of early Wednesday evening, water levels are rising from Galveston Bay , Texas to Mobile Bay , Ala.