August 27, 2020 at 7:37 AM EDT
Hurricane Laura’s ferocious winds, storm surge may very well be ‘unsurvivable’ alongside Texas, Louisiana coast
LAKE CHARLES, La. — Hurricane Laura, a monster of a storm that picked up ferocious depth as it traversed the nice and cozy waters of the Gulf of Mexico, continued to threatened a big swath of Texas and Louisiana with what authorities stated may very well be “unsurvivable” flooding and catastrophic winds as it moved inland Thursday and started to weaken.
Laura strengthened right into a Category 4 hurricane earlier than it made landfall in Louisiana, its fearsome eyewall trained on the low-lying wetlands that span the border between Texas and Louisiana. Residents fled Lake Charles and Port Arthur, Tex., as the National Weather Service predicted that prime tide mixed with a doubtlessly historic storm surge might push harmful waters as far as 40 miles inland within the early hours of Thursday.
The storm was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane Thursday morning however nonetheless had sustained winds increased than 100 mph and threatened flooding alongside its path northward.
These communities have seen hurricanes earlier than, however maybe nothing like Laura, which had sustained winds of greater than 150 mph whereas out over the water, with gusts of as much as 175 mph. That type of energy can uproot timber and toss them like twigs or splinter and flatten houses — as Hurricane Michael did when it equally intensified quickly over the gulf and slammed into Mexico Beach, Fla., two years in the past, about 500 miles east of right here.
Authorities on this coastal metropolis of 78,000 had been bracing for a number of the worst storm surge flooding in recorded historical past, with the winds and form of the shoreline combining to drive a wall of water effectively past the shore. Expectations are that the Calcasieu River and the lakes that sit north of the shoreline might crest at greater than 15 ft above regular. That probably would put a lot of Lake Charles underwater, so metropolis officers ordered a compulsory evacuation.
By Wednesday afternoon, most Lake Charles residents who deliberate to get out had accomplished so. Buildings and houses had been boarded up throughout the area, and the streets of town’s small downtown had been desolate.
By Ashley Cusick, Maria Sacchetti, Marisa Iati and Andrew Freedman