Hurricane Laura makes landfall in the US

By Meg Wagner, Judson Jones, Mike Hayes, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 8:38 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020
43 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:39 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

American Red Cross deploys 600 workers in Louisiana and Texas

From CNN's Devon M. Sayers 

The American Red Cross has deployed more than 600 disaster workers and sheltered more than 5,000 people last night, the group said in a release. 

“Over the past few days our volunteers have been working tirelessly to position supplies and shelter teams across the state,” American Red Cross Louisiana Regional Executive Joshua Joachim said in a release. “As the storms shift, we shift with them and remain prepared to meet the immediate needs of those impacted across Louisiana.” 

The Red Cross told CNN yesterday that more than 700 workers were ready to respond. A spokesperson for the group says that the reason for the change was due to the new storm track, and that the number of workers in Louisiana and Texas remained the same. 

2:35 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

In 15 hours, Laura went from a Category 1 to a Category 4 hurricane

Satellite imagery of Hurricane Laura rapidly intensifying from midnight this morning until 2 pm ET. 
Satellite imagery of Hurricane Laura rapidly intensifying from midnight this morning until 2 pm ET. 

Starting the day, Laura was a Category 1 hurricane. It has now exploded into an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm. 

The storm had winds of 90 mph late Tuesday night, according to the 11 p.m. ET update. Laura did hit category 2 until the 2 a.m. ET update this morning.

Now, it is packing sustained winds of 140 mph with higher gusts. 

That is an increase of 50 mph in 15 hours. 

2:57 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

What we know about Hurricane Laura's forecast path

Hurricane Laura, now a dangerous Category 4 storm, is heading toward the US Gulf Coast.

Right now, the storm is forecast to keep its Category 4 strength when it makes landfall after midnight tonight, near the Texas and Louisiana border.

Laura is forecast to travel northward, along the Texas-Louisiana border before turning slightly and traveling northeastward through Arkansas.

Here's a look at the hurricane's projected path:

Watch:

2:22 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Here's what it means to be a Category 4 hurricane

Large waves as a result from Hurricane Laura crash on the beach as an off shore oil rig is seen in Cameron, Louisiana on August 26, 2020. 
Large waves as a result from Hurricane Laura crash on the beach as an off shore oil rig is seen in Cameron, Louisiana on August 26, 2020.  Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Hurricane Laura just strengthened into a Category 4 as it churns in the Gulf of Mexico.

Meteorologists use the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to measure a hurricane's strength. The scale also estimates potential property damage.

Storms reaching Category 3 and higher are considered substantial hurricanes "because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage," the National Hurricane Center writes.

The system divides storms into five categories:

  • Category 1: Winds 74 to 95 mph (Minor damage)
  • Category 2: Winds 96 to 110 mph (Extensive damage — Can uproot trees and break windows)
  • Category 3: Winds 111 to 129 mph (Devastating — Can break windows and doors)
  • Category 4: Winds 130 to 156 mph (Catastrophic damage — Can tear off roofs)
  • Category 5: Winds 157 mph or higher (The absolute worst and can level houses and destroy buildings)
1:51 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Hurricane Laura is now a Category 4 storm

Hurricane Laura has strengthened into an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center. It now has maximum sustained winds of up to 140 mph.

"Little time remains to protect life and property," the center warned in its latest advisory.
1:33 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

This is the first time in 8 years Louisiana has activated its full National Guard

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers in Atlanta   

A member of the Louisiana National Guard prepares a boat for the arrival of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
A member of the Louisiana National Guard prepares a boat for the arrival of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The full Louisiana National Guard has been activated ahead of Hurricane Laura's landfall, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced at a press conference today. He said the last time the state had activated the full guard was for Hurricane Issac in 2012. 

“We need everyone in southwest Louisiana paying close attention to this storm,“ Gov. Edwards said.  “People need to heed the warnings they have been given and evacuate” he added. He called the expected storm surge un-survivable in some Parishes in the path of the storm.   

“We do believe that there will be extensive search and rescue after this storm," Edwards said, thus part of the reason for activation of the full guard. 

The governor said that more than 3,000 members of the guard are currently deployed, with that number to increase this afternoon. In addition to the personnel, 19 aircraft, 920,000 liters of water and more than half a million meals have been pre-deployed, Edwards added. 

About 2,000 hotel rooms had been secured this evening to help shelter people as a result of the storm and to also help with social distancing, Edwards said. 

All commercial traffic along I-10 is being detoured north from I-10 to I-20, Shawn Wilson commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Transportation said at a press conference.  

2:40 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Texas governor says the state anticipates heavy winds, flash floods and river flooding from Laura 

From CNN's Amanda Watts

People remove loose wood from a building ahead of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 in Sabine Pass, Texas.
People remove loose wood from a building ahead of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 in Sabine Pass, Texas. Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said winds could be the biggest threat from Hurricane Laura.  

“The storm surge is also a big problem — with 10 to 15 feet storm surge around the Jefferson County area, we should expect some flash floods in various regions where the storm will be going through, and those flash floods could spill into rivers and the rivers could overflow," Abbott said during a Wednesday afternoon presser.

Abbott warned that “the one river that we do anticipate having the greatest challenge is the Sabine River,” which is along the Texas and Louisiana border.  

Abbott said there will be a roughly 24-hour period where “there will be no ability for rescuers or operators to get in and assist you in any way.” 

On Wednesday, Abbott added Camp, Ellis and Tarrant counties to the disaster declaration which was already in place from earlier this week. Ellis and Tarrant are housing many evacuees from the coastal areas he said.  

1:17 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Vermilion Parish in Louisiana issues a curfew and evacuation orders for some areas

From CNN's Amanda Watts

A mandatory evacuation order for several areas and a curfew order are now in place in Vermilion Parish in Louisiana. 

The following areas are under a mandatory evacuation order, according to posts on the Vermilion Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Facebook page:

  • Pecan Island
  • Intracoastal City
  • Esther
  • Forked Island
  • Mouton Cove
  • Areas South of highway 14 to include South Erath, South Delcambre and South Gueydan

A curfew will be parish-wide starting at 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. local time.

The parish anticipates a storm surge from Hurricane Laura from 12 to 18 feet, officials said on Facebook. 

1:09 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

We're talking a lot about storm surge today. Here's what you need to know.

From CNN's Steve Almasy and Dakin Andone

People photograph waves in Galveston, Texas, on August 26.
People photograph waves in Galveston, Texas, on August 26. Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News/AP

When Laura makes landfall, the storm will bring with it an "unsurvivable storm surge," the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.

Here are some important things to know about here:

  • What exactly is storm surge? CNN's meteorologist Brandon Miller says a storm surge is a rise in water level caused by a strong storm's wind pushing water on-shore. "The wind literally piles up the ocean water and pushes it on the land." Almost half of all deaths from tropical cyclones come from storm surge.
  • The water has nowhere to go: Storm surge can bring with it massive flooding as water levels rise. That water doesn't just leave. Depending on how much water was pushed ashore and the area's watershed, it may hang around, causing further damage to communities.
  • Storm surge from Laura could reach 30 miles inland: Storm surge warnings have been issued from Freeport, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Laura will push all of this water very far north — up to 30 miles inland — quite possibly reaching Interstate 10.
  • "Unsurvivable" surge is possible: The center's latest advisory warned that "unsurvivable" storm surges of up to 15 feet could overwhelm coasts from south of Texas' Port Arthur to Louisiana's Intracoastal City. The National Hurricane Center's next advisory will come at 2 p.m. ET.

Read more here on why coastal communities should fear storm surge.

CNN's Brandon Miller, Gene Norman, Judson Jones and Emily Smith contributed to this report.