'Unsurvivable Storm Surge' Expected as Hurricane Laura Reaches Category 4 Before Landfall

August 26, 2020

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Laura is a Category 4 and forecast to get even stronger before landfall.

"Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 mph (220 km/h) with higher gusts. Laura is an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some additional strengthening is possible this afternoon, and Laura is forecast to remain a category 4 hurricane through landfall tonight," the Hurricane Center advised.

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The 10:00am forecast calls for winds to grow to 145 mph before landfall late tonight or early tomorrow.

That would mean a 20 foot storm surge near the Texas-Louisiana line.

On Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center bluntly warned of the anticipated impact of the storm when it makes landfall in Louisiana and Texas.

"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 announcement read.

"This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline," the warning continued.

"Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months... Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls."

The region near the state line can also expect 15 inches of rain.

"Data from NOAA and Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 125 mph," the center advised.

Shoppers load up on supplies before Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Shoppers load up on supplies before Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana Photo credit Getty Images

"Laura is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Additional strengthening is expected and Laura is forecast to become a category 4 hurricane this afternoon."

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The forecast calls for winds to grow to 145 mph before landfall late tonight or early tomorrow.

That would mean a 20 foot storm surge near the Texas-Louisiana line.

The National Weather Service says, "Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage."

Evacuees wait to board buses as they are evacuated by local and state government officials before the possible arrival of Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Evacuees wait to board buses as they are evacuated by local and state government officials before the possible arrival of Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana Photo credit Getty Images

The Hurricane Center says that kind of impact will devastate the area where the eyewall hits.

"Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months... Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls."

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In the New Orleans area, the impact will be minimal. The Hurricane Center expects just one to two inches of rain with some isolated higher amounts. The rest of Southeast Louisiana is forecast to see two to four inches of rain.

Farmer rounds up cattle on a pasture next to the Gulf of Mexico to take them to safe ground before the possible arrival of Hurricane Laura in Cameron, Louisiana
Farmer rounds up cattle on a pasture next to the Gulf of Mexico to take them to safe ground before the possible arrival of Hurricane Laura in Cameron, Louisiana Photo credit Getty Images

Leaders in Terrebonne, Lafourche and Jefferson Parishes say forecasts of up to seven feet of storm surge there are manageable. The surge in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Orleans and St. Tammany are expected to be two to four feet outside the levee protection.

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