Hurricane Laura is a Category 4 and continues to strengthen as it heads for a destructive landfall near the Texas and Louisiana border Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. A catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds will batter the region and a threat of flooding rain and strong winds will extend well inland.
Residents along the upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts should finish preparations now for a major hurricane strike. Follow any evacuation orders issued by local or state officials.
Laura is centered about 155 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana. It’s tracking to the northwest at 15 mph.
The hurricane is now a Category 4 with 145 mph winds. Some slight additional strengthening is possible this evening.
Laura’s maximum sustained winds jumped from 75 mph to 140 mph in the 24 hours ending 1 p.m. CDT Wednesday. That increase in maximum sustained winds easily meets the definition of rapid intensification in a hurricane.
Doppler radar shows that bands of rain and gusty winds are now pivoting into the northwest Gulf Coast.
A wind gust to 107 mph was reported at a buoy near the center of Laura early Wednesday morning. A water-level station at Eugene Island, Louisiana reported about 3.2 feet of inundation above ground level early Wednesday afternoon and a wind gust of 45 mph.
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch until 9 p.m. CDT for parts of Louisiana and southeastern Texas. The watch area includes Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Lake Charles and Lufkin.