Wednesday, 26 August 2020 19:21

Louisiana and Texas Prepare for Possibly 'Catastrophic' Damage from Hurricane Laura

Written by David Jacobs, The Center Square
Louisiana and Texas Prepare for Possibly 'Catastrophic' Damage from Hurricane Laura National Weather Service


While residents of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas should be on high alert, Hurricane Laura also could cause devastation much farther north than typical storms, officials and forecasters said Aug. 25.

Laura is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane about 1 a.m. Aug. 27 near the Louisiana/Texas border. Dangerous weather could arrive as early as midday Aug. 26, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.


“We’ve got a little bit of time left to get ready,” he said.


Edwards said all of coastal Louisiana should be prepared for up to 13 feet of storm surge, which is when storms push water levels higher than normal. In an unfortunate coincidence, 1 a.m. Aug. 27 happens to be when the highest tide for the month is expected where the storm is projected to land.


Benjamin Schott, meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service in New Orleans, said 115 mph winds are expected with gusts up to 140 mph. He said wind may do “devastating to catastrophic damage” as far as 50 miles inland.


Hurricane-force winds may be felt as far north as Alexandria or even Shreveport, Schott said. Tropical storm-force winds might be felt as far east as Baton Rouge. Five to 10 inches of rain likely will be common, and as much as 15 inches might fall in certain areas.


Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for all of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes and parts of Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines and Terrebonne parishes, while voluntary evacuations have been called for in several others. A federal disaster has been declared for basically the entire southern half of the state, and declarations will be filed for parishes in central and northwest Louisiana, Edwards said.


Residents who need to evacuate are urged to use their own vehicles and stay in hotels if they are able. Officials have secured hotel rooms for evacuees and plan to open mass shelters only as a last resort. Residents who need help evacuating are urged to contact their local office of emergency preparedness as soon as possible, since it is expected to be too dangerous to travel by the afternoon of Aug. 26.

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