Video above: Live coverage from our sister station WDSU in New OrleansUpdates below listed in CDT:3 a.m.Hurricane Laura continues to push inland, moving steadily across southwestern Louisiana. Maximum winds have dropped again, maintaining powerful gusts at 130 mph as the storm moves north at 15 mph. The storm is currently about 15 miles from Lake Charles, Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.2 a.m.Hurricane Laura continued moving inland after making landfall along the southwestern Louisiana Thursday morning. Winds unexpectedly lowered slightly over land, dropping to maximum sustained gusts of 140 mph as the storm headed north, just 10 miles southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 40 miles east of Port Arthur, Texas.The National Hurricane Center described the storm as “extremely dangerous,” urging local residents to seek shelter immediately.”TAKE COVER NOW!” a release read. “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!”The storm is expected to continue up the Louisiana-Texas border and before heading northeast as it loses speed.1 a.m.Hurricane Laura made landfall along the U.S. coastline Thursday morning around 1 a.m., moving in-land near Cameron, Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.The Category 4 storm held maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it headed north at 15 mph. It was located about 30 miles south-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 40 miles east of Port Arthur, Texas.The National Hurricane Center warns storm surge from Hurricane Laura could reach an “unsurvivable” 20 feet in parts of Texas and Louisiana, capable of engulfing entire communities.The storm grew nearly 87% in power in just 24 hours to a size the National Hurricane Center called “extremely dangerous.” Drawing energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico, the system was arrived during high tide as the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. so far this year.The NHC said the hurricane will be disastrous, causing catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding along the northwest Gulf Coast.On the forecast track, the center of Laura is expected to move up the Texas-Louisiana state line, weakening to a Category 2 storm by 7 a.m. Thursday.Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has activated the state’s entire National Guard, expecting widespread devastation across the hurricane’s path.A Category 4 hurricane can render wide areas uninhabitable for weeks or months and knock out power for just as long.12 a.m.The northern eyewall of Hurricane Laura began treading over Cameron, Louisiana, Wednesday night leading into Thursday morning. The National Hurricane Center said that “catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding” were occurring in parts of Louisiana.”A Weatherflow site in Cameron recently reported a sustained wind of 84 mph with a gust to 110 mph,” the center said.Maximum sustained winds stayed at 150 mph as Laura headed north-northwest at 15 mph. It was located about 40 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 45 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.11 p.m.Laura’s maximum sustained winds maintained at 150 mph as it moved closer to Louisiana, heading north-northwest at 15 mph. It was located about 60 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 65 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas. “A Weatherflow site at Cameron, Louisiana recently reported a sustained wind of 41 mph with a gust to 67 mph,” the National Hurricane Center said.The center said “catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding” were expected tonight and early Thursday.10 p.m.Laura’s maximum sustained winds maintained at 150 mph as the storm began moving north-northwest at 15 mph. It was located about 75 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 75 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas. Winds began picking up along the coastline, with a sustained wind of 45 mph recently reported at Cypremort Point, Louisiana, on Vermilion Bay.The National Hurricane Center said “catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding” were expected tonight and early Thursday.9 p.m.Laura’s maximum sustained winds maintained at 150 mph as the storm began moving north-northwest at 15 mph. It was located about 90 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 90 miles south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas. Winds began picking up along the coastline, with a sustained wind of 45 mph recently reported at Cypremort Point, Louisiana, on Vermilion Bay.7:30 p.m.Hurricane Laura, on the verge of becoming a Category 5 storm, has gained further strength, becoming an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm as it hurtles toward Louisiana and Texas, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm’s maximum sustained winds are now 150 mph, and Laura is heading about 15 mph northwest. It is currently about 120 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 120 miles south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas. The center warned of possibly a “catastrophic and life-threatening storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding” Wednesday night along the northwest Gulf Coast.Original story below:Laura strengthened Wednesday into a menacing Category 4 hurricane, raising fears of a 20-foot storm surge that forecasters said would be “unsurvivable” and capable of sinking entire communities. Ocean water topped by white-capped waves began rising ominously as the monster neared land.Authorities implored coastal residents of Texas and Louisiana to evacuate and worried that not enough had fled by the time winds began picking up.The storm grew nearly 87% in power in just 24 hours to a size the National Hurricane Center called “extremely dangerous.” Drawing energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico waters, the system was on track to arrive late Wednesday or early Thursday as the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. so far this year.“It looks like it’s in full beast mode, which is not what you want to see if you’re in its way,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said.Maximum sustained winds increased to 150 mph (241 kph) before nightfall, and forecasters said up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain could fall in some places.One major Louisiana highway already had standing water as Laura’s outer bands moved ashore with tropical storm-force winds. Thousands of sandbags lined roadways in tiny Lafitte, and winds picked up as shoppers rushed into a grocery store in low-lying Delcambre. Trent Savoie, 31, said he was staying put.“With four kids and 100 farm animals, it’s just hard to move out,” he said.Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards fretted that the dire predictions were not resonating despite authorities putting more than 500,000 coastal residents under mandatory evacuation orders.Edwards activated the state’s entire National Guard. In Lake Charles, Guard members drove school buses around neighborhoods, offering to pick up families. Across the state line in Port Arthur, Texas, few stragglers boarded evacuation buses, and city officials announced that two C-130 transport planes offered the last chance to leave.Abbott warned that people who fail to get out of harm’s way could be cut off from help long after the storm hits.A Category 4 hurricane can render wide areas uninhabitable for weeks or months and knock out power for just as long. The threat of such devastation posed a new disaster-relief challenge for a government already straining under the coronavirus pandemic. The parts of Louisiana that were under evacuation orders included areas turning up high rates of positive COVID-19 tests.The National Hurricane Center kept raising its estimate of Laura’s storm surge, from 10 feet just days ago to twice that size — a height that forecasters said would be especially deadly.By Wednesday evening, Laura was churning about 120 miles (190 kilometers) south of Lake Charles.“Heed the advice of your local authorities. If they tell you to go, go! Your life depends on it today,” said Joel Cline, tropical program coordinator at the National Weather Service. “It’s a serious day and you need to listen to them.”On Twitter, President Donald Trump urged coastal residents to heed officials. Hurricane warnings were issued from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, and reached inland for 200 miles (322 kilometers). Storm surge warnings extended from Freeport, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.For some, the decision to leave home left them with no place to stay. Wary of opening mass shelters during a pandemic, Texas officials instead put evacuees in hotels, but Austin stopped taking arrivals before dawn because officials said they ran out of rooms. Other evacuees called the state’s 211 information line and were directed to Ennis, outside Dallas, only to be told after driving hundreds of miles no hotels or vouchers were available.Taniquia Ned and her sisters showed up without money to rent a room, saying the family had burned through its savings after losing jobs because of the coronavirus. “The COVID-19 is just totally wiping us out,” said Shalonda Joseph, 43, a teacher in Port Arthur.Edwards lamented that the impending storm meant suspension of community testing for COVID-19 at a crucial time — as elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana open and students return to college campuses. “We’re basically going to be blind for this week,” Edwards said, referring to the lack of testing.Forecasters said storm surge topped by waves could submerge entire towns. Water was already rising in the small Louisiana community of Holly Beach in the imperiled Cameron Parish, which forecasters have warned could become part of the Gulf after the storm comes ashore.Laura is expected to cause widespread flash flooding in states far from the coast. Flood watches were issued for much of Arkansas, and forecasters said heavy rainfall could arrive by Friday in parts of Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky. Laura is so powerful that it’s expected to become a tropical storm again once it reaches the Atlantic Ocean, potentially threatening the Northeast.Becky Clements, 56, evacuated from Lake Charles after hearing that it could take a direct hit. She and her family found an AirBnb hundreds of miles inland. Almost 15 years have passed since Hurricane Rita destroyed the city.“The devastation afterward in our town and that whole corner of the state was just awful,” Clements recalled. “Whole communities were washed away, never to exist again. … So knowing how devastating the storms are, there was no way we were going to stay for this.”The church educator said she fears for her office, which is in a trailer following recent construction.“I very much anticipate that my office will be gone when I get back.”The hurricane also threatens a center of the U.S. energy industry. The government said 84% of Gulf oil production and an estimated 61% of natural gas production were shut down. Nearly 300 platforms have been evacuated. Consumers are unlikely to see big price hikes, however, because the pandemic has decimated demand for fuel.“If Laura moves further west toward Houston, there will be a much bigger gasoline supply problem,” Oil analyst Andrew Lipow said, since refineries usually take two to three weeks to resume full operations. Laura closed in on the U.S. after killing nearly two dozen people on the island of Hispaniola, including 20 in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic, where it knocked out power and caused intense flooding.

Video above: Live coverage from our sister station WDSU in New Orleans

Updates below listed in CDT:

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3 a.m.

Hurricane Laura continues to push inland, moving steadily across southwestern Louisiana. Maximum winds have dropped again, maintaining powerful gusts at 130 mph as the storm moves north at 15 mph.

The storm is currently about 15 miles from Lake Charles, Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.

2 a.m.

Hurricane Laura continued moving inland after making landfall along the southwestern Louisiana Thursday morning. Winds unexpectedly lowered slightly over land, dropping to maximum sustained gusts of 140 mph as the storm headed north, just 10 miles southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 40 miles east of Port Arthur, Texas.

The National Hurricane Center described the storm as “extremely dangerous,” urging local residents to seek shelter immediately.

TAKE COVER NOW!” a release read. “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!”

The storm is expected to continue up the Louisiana-Texas border and before heading northeast as it loses speed.

1 a.m.

Hurricane Laura made landfall along the U.S. coastline Thursday morning around 1 a.m., moving in-land near Cameron, Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Category 4 storm held maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it headed north at 15 mph. It was located about 30 miles south-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 40 miles east of Port Arthur, Texas.

The National Hurricane Center warns storm surge from Hurricane Laura could reach an “unsurvivable” 20 feet in parts of Texas and Louisiana, capable of engulfing entire communities.

The storm grew nearly 87% in power in just 24 hours to a size the National Hurricane Center called “extremely dangerous.” Drawing energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico, the system was arrived during high tide as the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. so far this year.

The NHC said the hurricane will be disastrous, causing catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding along the northwest Gulf Coast.

On the forecast track, the center of Laura is expected to move up the Texas-Louisiana state line, weakening to a Category 2 storm by 7 a.m. Thursday.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has activated the state’s entire National Guard, expecting widespread devastation across the hurricane’s path.

A Category 4 hurricane can render wide areas uninhabitable for weeks or months and knock out power for just as long.

12 a.m.

The northern eyewall of Hurricane Laura began treading over Cameron, Louisiana, Wednesday night leading into Thursday morning. The National Hurricane Center said that “catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding” were occurring in parts of Louisiana.

A Weatherflow site in Cameron recently reported a sustained wind of 84 mph with a gust to 110 mph,” the center said.

Maximum sustained winds stayed at 150 mph as Laura headed north-northwest at 15 mph. It was located about 40 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 45 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

11 p.m.

Laura’s maximum sustained winds maintained at 150 mph as it moved closer to Louisiana, heading north-northwest at 15 mph. It was located about 60 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 65 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

“A Weatherflow site at Cameron, Louisiana recently reported a sustained wind of 41 mph with a gust to 67 mph,” the National Hurricane Center said.

The center said “catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding” were expected tonight and early Thursday.

10 p.m.

Laura’s maximum sustained winds maintained at 150 mph as the storm began moving north-northwest at 15 mph. It was located about 75 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 75 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

Winds began picking up along the coastline, with a sustained wind of 45 mph recently reported at Cypremort Point, Louisiana, on Vermilion Bay.

The National Hurricane Center said “catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding” were expected tonight and early Thursday.

9 p.m.

Laura’s maximum sustained winds maintained at 150 mph as the storm began moving north-northwest at 15 mph. It was located about 90 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 90 miles south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

Winds began picking up along the coastline, with a sustained wind of 45 mph recently reported at Cypremort Point, Louisiana, on Vermilion Bay.

7:30 p.m.

Hurricane Laura, on the verge of becoming a Category 5 storm, has gained further strength, becoming an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm as it hurtles toward Louisiana and Texas, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds are now 150 mph, and Laura is heading about 15 mph northwest. It is currently about 120 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and about 120 miles south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

The center warned of possibly a “catastrophic and life-threatening storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding” Wednesday night along the northwest Gulf Coast.

Original story below:

Laura strengthened Wednesday into a menacing Category 4 hurricane, raising fears of a 20-foot storm surge that forecasters said would be “unsurvivable” and capable of sinking entire communities. Ocean water topped by white-capped waves began rising ominously as the monster neared land.

Authorities implored coastal residents of Texas and Louisiana to evacuate and worried that not enough had fled by the time winds began picking up.

The storm grew nearly 87% in power in just 24 hours to a size the National Hurricane Center called “extremely dangerous.” Drawing energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico waters, the system was on track to arrive late Wednesday or early Thursday as the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. so far this year.

“It looks like it’s in full beast mode, which is not what you want to see if you’re in its way,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said.

Maximum sustained winds increased to 150 mph (241 kph) before nightfall, and forecasters said up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain could fall in some places.

One major Louisiana highway already had standing water as Laura’s outer bands moved ashore with tropical storm-force winds. Thousands of sandbags lined roadways in tiny Lafitte, and winds picked up as shoppers rushed into a grocery store in low-lying Delcambre. Trent Savoie, 31, said he was staying put.

“With four kids and 100 farm animals, it’s just hard to move out,” he said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards fretted that the dire predictions were not resonating despite authorities putting more than 500,000 coastal residents under mandatory evacuation orders.

Edwards activated the state’s entire National Guard. In Lake Charles, Guard members drove school buses around neighborhoods, offering to pick up families. Across the state line in Port Arthur, Texas, few stragglers boarded evacuation buses, and city officials announced that two C-130 transport planes offered the last chance to leave.

Abbott warned that people who fail to get out of harm’s way could be cut off from help long after the storm hits.

A Category 4 hurricane can render wide areas uninhabitable for weeks or months and knock out power for just as long. The threat of such devastation posed a new disaster-relief challenge for a government already straining under the coronavirus pandemic. The parts of Louisiana that were under evacuation orders included areas turning up high rates of positive COVID-19 tests.

The National Hurricane Center kept raising its estimate of Laura’s storm surge, from 10 feet just days ago to twice that size — a height that forecasters said would be especially deadly.

By Wednesday evening, Laura was churning about 120 miles (190 kilometers) south of Lake Charles.

“Heed the advice of your local authorities. If they tell you to go, go! Your life depends on it today,” said Joel Cline, tropical program coordinator at the National Weather Service. “It’s a serious day and you need to listen to them.”

On Twitter, President Donald Trump urged coastal residents to heed officials. Hurricane warnings were issued from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, and reached inland for 200 miles (322 kilometers). Storm surge warnings extended from Freeport, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

For some, the decision to leave home left them with no place to stay. Wary of opening mass shelters during a pandemic, Texas officials instead put evacuees in hotels, but Austin stopped taking arrivals before dawn because officials said they ran out of rooms. Other evacuees called the state’s 211 information line and were directed to Ennis, outside Dallas, only to be told after driving hundreds of miles no hotels or vouchers were available.

Taniquia Ned and her sisters showed up without money to rent a room, saying the family had burned through its savings after losing jobs because of the coronavirus. “The COVID-19 is just totally wiping us out,” said Shalonda Joseph, 43, a teacher in Port Arthur.

Edwards lamented that the impending storm meant suspension of community testing for COVID-19 at a crucial time — as elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana open and students return to college campuses. “We’re basically going to be blind for this week,” Edwards said, referring to the lack of testing.

Forecasters said storm surge topped by waves could submerge entire towns. Water was already rising in the small Louisiana community of Holly Beach in the imperiled Cameron Parish, which forecasters have warned could become part of the Gulf after the storm comes ashore.

Laura is expected to cause widespread flash flooding in states far from the coast. Flood watches were issued for much of Arkansas, and forecasters said heavy rainfall could arrive by Friday in parts of Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky. Laura is so powerful that it’s expected to become a tropical storm again once it reaches the Atlantic Ocean, potentially threatening the Northeast.

Becky Clements, 56, evacuated from Lake Charles after hearing that it could take a direct hit. She and her family found an AirBnb hundreds of miles inland. Almost 15 years have passed since Hurricane Rita destroyed the city.

“The devastation afterward in our town and that whole corner of the state was just awful,” Clements recalled. “Whole communities were washed away, never to exist again. … So knowing how devastating the storms are, there was no way we were going to stay for this.”

The church educator said she fears for her office, which is in a trailer following recent construction.

“I very much anticipate that my office will be gone when I get back.”

The hurricane also threatens a center of the U.S. energy industry. The government said 84% of Gulf oil production and an estimated 61% of natural gas production were shut down. Nearly 300 platforms have been evacuated. Consumers are unlikely to see big price hikes, however, because the pandemic has decimated demand for fuel.

“If Laura moves further west toward Houston, there will be a much bigger gasoline supply problem,” Oil analyst Andrew Lipow said, since refineries usually take two to three weeks to resume full operations.

Laura closed in on the U.S. after killing nearly two dozen people on the island of Hispaniola, including 20 in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic, where it knocked out power and caused intense flooding.

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