The eye of the powerful Category 4 Hurricane Laura – up to 5 intensities — made landfall on Thursday (27,08,2020) off the coast of Louisiana (U.S.) with sustained maximum winds of up to 240 kilometers per hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported. Described as “extremely dangerous,” it has forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from this state and neighboring Texas, in the face of the threat of “catastrophic” water floods.
At 01.00 local time in Louisiana (08:00 CET), Laura’s eye, which threatens “catastrophic” flooding according to the NHC, made landfall near the town of Cameron, 45 kilometres southwest of the 200,000-town town of Lake Charles, and was advancing north at a speed of 24 kilometers per hour.
“Extremely dangerous, Category 4 Hurricane Laura makes landfall near Cameron, Louisiana,” the National Hurricane Center said in an update at 08:00 CET. “Catastrophic cyclonic tide, extreme winds and flash floods are happening in parts of Louisiana,” warned the center, which reported Laura’s sustained maximum winds of 240 km/h.
If Laura keeps this force on the ground, it would become one of the 13 strongest hurricanes on record in the United States, although the NHC said “rapid weakening is expected” upon its entry into land. Added to the high tide, these tidal waves – which could penetrate about 50 km inland – could cause flooding of the waters between 4.5 and 6 meters above normal level.
The state of Louisiana is home to large oil refining centers. More than 100 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico were evacuated as a precautionary measure. Locals left the site on buses after receiving a mandatory evacuation order for the risk of flooding. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to evacuate their homes. “They’ve only got a few more hours to get away from the damage,” he said on the Weather Channel. “This is a very dangerous storm, stronger than most that have crossed” the shores of the state, he added, urging to do “everything possible to get out of the way”.
Laura spent Monday as a tropical storm through Cuba, causing heavy rains, heavy tides and some damage, after crossing the island of Hispaniola, which share Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where she left a trail of 25 dead. This Atlantic storm season, which runs until November, is expected to be one of the toughest. The NHC predicts up to 25 storms and Laura is the twelfth so far, while Marco, who came to hurricane strength, dissipated Tuesday off the Louisiana coast before making landfall.