Story at a glance
- The hurricane hit the Louisiana coast with 150 mph winds.
- Laura weakened to a Category 2 hurricane after making landfall but still packs sustained winds of more than 100 mph.
- The storm tied with a hurricane from more than 160 years ago as the strongest storm to hit the region.
Hurricane Laura made landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane early Thursday morning packing 150 mile-per-hour winds and bringing a storm surge with the potential to inundate coastal areas of western Louisiana to the Texas border with up to 20 feet of water.
Laura made landfall around 1 a.m. near Cameron, La. The 400-person community is more than 30 miles east of the Texas border. Around 7 a.m. CDT, the storm was centered near Leesville, La., roughly 100 miles north of the Gulf Coast.
The storm ties with a hurricane from more than 160 years ago as the strongest storm to hit the region. A hurricane called “Last Island” made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds in 1856, according to CNN.
Laura weakened to a Category 2 hurricane after making landfall but still packs sustained winds of more than 100 mph and will continue to produce heavy rain and flash flooding that are not expected to recede for several days.
Government officials had warned people to find safety and get out of harm’s way as the storm approached.
More 500,000 people in the storm’s path in coastal Texas and Louisiana were under evacuation orders, although as many as 150 people in Cameron Parish, where the hurricane came ashore, ignored the orders and were unreachable as of Thursday morning, according to The Associated Press.
“This is a time for all of us to be praying for the best, while we’re prepared for the worst. God bless you and your families,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) tweeted just before the storm made landfall.
The hurricane tore buildings to pieces, knocked out power to more than 500,000 people and inundated the coastline.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned hurricane-force winds will continue this morning in portions of the hurricane warning area with “catastrophic” wind damage expected near the eye of the storm.
“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,” the NHC said Thursday.
“This surge could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the immediate coastline, and flood waters will not fully recede for several days after the storm,” the NHC said.
Laura slammed into the U.S. after leaving nearly two dozen people dead in Haiti and the Dominican Republic over the weekend.