Hurricane Laura made landfall early on Thursday morning, with wild winds upward of 150 mph (241.4 km/h) and massive flooding growing into an "unsurvivable storm surge," according to the National Hurricane Center website.
Update 28.08 9:30 am EDT: Hurricane Laura leaves widespread destruction with six people dead
Hurricane Laura has struck Louisiana and left widespread destruction in its wake with homes and businesses torn apart. At least six people were killed.
It was reported that the ocean water rose to 12 ft (4 meters) rather than the 20 ft (6 meters) that was predicted by the experts.
As of now, hundreds of thousands of people are without either power or water following the hurricane, and it is now estimated that there are currently around 520,000 without power in Louisiana, nearly 200,000 in Texas, and nearly 50,000 in Arkansas.
Hurricane Laura could see 20-foot flooding, massive damage
Some places in southwest Louisiana could see 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) of flooding, up to 40 miles (64.3 km) inland as Hurricane Laura moves farther inland.
Some places could see stormwater levels surge up to 12 ft (roughly 3.7 m) or more, according to a video The Weather Channel posted on Twitter.
Evacuation is necessary for affected areas not only from the danger of drowning but from toxic chemicals or dangerous sharp objects in the water, not to mention cars floating around like battering rams with the momentum to kill.
The National Hurricane Center has forecasted "unsurvivable storm surge" from Hurricane #Laura in parts of Louisiana and Texas. Do NOT underestimate this storm.— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) August 26, 2020
This is what that kind of water height looks like: pic.twitter.com/ik7EtpFTzn
Varying wind speeds in different cities
Hurricane Laura made landfall close to Cameron, Louisiana, at 2:00 AM EDT. At the time it was rated as a strong Category 4 Hurricane, with wind speeds of 150 mph (241.4 km/h). This is southwest Louisiana's first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall on record, according to the NOAA's historical database, The Weather Channel reports.
As of writing, Laura is moving through the northern region of Louisiana as a tropical storm. Its winds will continue to weaken as it drifts farther inland, into Arkansas later today.
Wind gusts throughout Louisiana varied depending on location. Lake Charles saw 133 mph (214 km/h) winds, while Calcasieu Pass saw 127 mph (204.3 km/h) winds. Cameron, where Laura made landfall, endured 116 mph (186.6 km/h) winds, with Alexandra seeing only 86 mph (138.4 km/h) winds.
However, we should make no mistake: 86 mph (138.4 km/h) is still extremely dangerous.
Listen to this wind in Alexandria.....peak gust so far from #Laura of 86 MPH, illustrating the power of a landfalling Cat. 4 #hurricane even 125 miles inland. Here in Rapides Parish 93% of customers have lost power and 460k customers so far statewide. #HurricanLaura pic.twitter.com/e95Twqf3gN— Mike Seidel (@mikeseidel) August 27, 2020
Widespread wind damage as Laura sweeps Louisiana
Winds from Hurricane Laura have caused power outages in more than 700,000 homes and businesses throughout southeast Texas and Louisiana, according to poweroutage.us.
Additionally, extensive wind damage was also reported in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with many shattered windows on skyscrapers in the downtown area. A communication tower actually collapsed mid-storm, power poles were knocked down, and roofs shredded into pieces.
Even the National Weather Service Doppler radar in Lake Charles was heavily damaged, reports The Weather Channel.
Hurricanes becoming larger, more damaging
Additional reports of damage due to wind gusts have come in from Lafayette, Starks, and Vinton, Louisiana, and also Natchez, Mississippi.
As Hurricane Laura continues its northward trajectory as a tropical storm, it's paramount that everyone takes proper precautions where possible — prioritizing safety and survival over property and convenience. Hurricanes are becoming larger and damaging in proportion with climate change, and Laura's toll will be counted not only in dollars, but also in lives.