By WILLIAM MANSELL and DANIEL MANZO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Laura is hitting the Gulf Coast as a Category 2 hurricane with an “unsurvivable storm surge” expected in some areas, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“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 in a statement. “This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline. Only a few hours remain to protect life and property and all actions should be rushed to completion.”
Parts of eastern Texas and western Louisiana are forecast to see “catastrophic wind damage,” especially in places where the storm’s eyewall makes landfall early Thursday morning, the NHC said. Residents in affected areas are being instructed to evacuate and are urged to brace for “widespread damaging wind gusts” that will spread well inland across parts of those areas.
Here’s how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:
6:22 a.m.: Laura weakens to Category 2 hurricane, hundreds of thousands without power in Texas, Louisiana
Laura weakened further Thursday morning and is now a Category 2 hurricane with winds up to 110 mph. Hurricane conditions are spreading farther inland across southwestern Louisiana.
Hurricane Laura is now about 45 miles north, northwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is still moving north at 15 mph.
Alexandria, Louisiana, is seeing wind gusts up to 85 mph while winds at Beauregard Regional Airport are gusting to 82 mph.
There is still a tornado watch in effect for much of Louisiana, eastern Texas, and southwest Mississippi. This tornado watch is in effect still until 8 a.m.
As the storm barreled through the Gulf Coast, more than 382,000 people are without power in Texas (61,153) and Louisiana (231,944).
Much of Louisiana is now under Flash Flood Warnings, with as much as 4-5 inches of rain.
5:05 a.m.: Laura now a Category 3 hurricane, with winds of 120 mph
Hurricane Laura is now a Category 3 storm with winds up to 120 mph.
It is moving northward through Louisiana as catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding continue.
Despite the storm being a Category 3 now, the National Hurricane Center said Laura can still cause an “unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves.” The damage, according to the NHC, will cause “catastrophic damage” and floodwaters are not expected to recede for several days.
Hurricane-force winds are expected to continue Thursday morning with catastrophic wind damage expected nears Laura’s eyewall, according to the NHC.
“Hurricane-force winds and widespread damaging wind gusts will continue to spread well inland into portions of extreme eastern Texas and western Louisiana through the day,” NHC said in its 5 a.m. advisory.
The storm is about 30 miles north, northwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Laura is still moving north at 15 mph and the hurricane-force winds extend 60 miles from its center.
4:15 a.m.: First damage reports come in, more than 290,000 without power
Hurricane Laura may be slightly weakening as it moves north over land, but it’s still churning with winds up to 130 mph. Now more than 290,000 customers are without power in Louisiana (231,944) and Texas (61,153).
On live radar, you can see the eye moving north of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Hurricane winds are likely extending well into Louisiana now. An extreme wind warning has been extended until 5 a.m. ET.
The storm is about 15 miles west, northwest of Lake Charles and is moving north at 15 mph.
A tornado watch for the region, which includes New Orleans, remains in effect until 9 a.m. Other tornado warnings are well removed from the center of the hurricane, showing how strong this storm is.
Reports of damage in Lake Charles include damage to hotels, skyscrapers and to the Golden Nugget Casino.
3:25 a.m.: Extreme wind warning extended, storm surge reaches 9 feet
Hurricane Laura is still a Category 4 storm as it batters Lake Charles, Louisiana, early Thursday with winds up to 132 mph.
The extreme wind warning in the area has been extended until 4 a.m. Lake Charles has seen sustained winds of 100 mph for almost an hour.
A storm surge of more than 9 feet is being reported in Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana.
ABC News station KTRK-TV in Houston has reporters on the ground showcasing the strong winds in Lake Charles as the eye approaches.
2:49 a.m.: Thousands already without power as Hurricane Laura hits Gulf
As of 2:30 a.m., more than 129,000 customers are without power in Louisiana and Texas due to Hurricane Laura. In Louisiana, there are at least 109,811 customers with no electricity and 19,270 in Texas.
As the storm moves north, a tropical storm warning has been issued as far north as Arkansas and a flash flood watch has been issued for Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee.
The National Hurricane Center said Laura made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and minimum central pressure of 938 millibars. It said the potentially catastrophic impacts would continue.
The northern eyewall is moving over Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Lake Charles is currently seeing wind gusts of 128 mph.
2:05 a.m.: Hurricane Laura makes landfall in Louisiana
Hurricane Laura is moving over Louisiana overnight with wind gusts of 110 in Cameron, Louisiana, catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding.
Laura is now 30 miles south, southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana. The hurricane is moving north at 15 mph, where winds are still reaching 150 mph.
Forecasts show up to 20 feet of storm surge is expected. This could go up to 40 miles inland in parts of the Southern Louisiana Coastline. This is a catastrophic forecast.
“The eyewall of Laura is moving onshore over southwest Louisiana. Take cover now,” the National Hurricane Center said in its 1 a.m. forecast. “Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to the safe room in your shelter. Take action now to protect your life.”
There have been two reported tornadoes due to this storm.
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