Hurricane Laura was originally projected to make landfall as a Category 3 storm, but now it is expected to strengthen into a Category 4 weather event. This is clearly concerning, as it could be catastrophic for Gulf-area cities in its path. On Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center issued a new warning about the storm, revealing their new projection, and calling Laura "a formidable hurricane," per the AP.
The NHC stated that there are currently "no signs" that Laura "will stop soon," which could lead to a significant amount of devastated homes and structures once the storm hits land. Additionally, the NHC warns that a Category 4 hurricane will do catastrophic damage, including power outages that "will last weeks to possibly months" and how "most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months."
Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist, commented on the possible damage that Laura could do: "Some areas when they wake up Thursday morning, they're not going to believe what happened. We could see storm surge heights more than 15 feet in some areas. What doesn’t get blown down by the wind could easily get knocked down by the rising ocean waters pushing well inland."
Hurricane Laura is rapidly intensifying as we are less then 24 hours away from landfall near the LA/TX state line. Laura is expected to become a Category 4 Hurricane this afternoon. Final preparations should be done and evacuation orders taken seriously. pic.twitter.com/4QVqToTJKj— Chris Cozart KLFY (@CozartKLFY) August 26, 2020
Hurricane Laura appears to be on a path that will take up the line between Texas and Louisiana. One of the cities expected to hide hardest is Galveston, Texas. It is projected to then keep moving upward, into Arkansas and Southern Missouri, and then moving toward Tennessee, Kentucky, and other Northern and Eastern U.S. states.
Galveston city officials issued a statement, explaining, "Mandatory evacuations will be ongoing throughout the day and early tomorrow, so people have time to secure their properties, businesses, etc. and leave for safety. Residents are NOT required to be off the island by 12 p.m. City services will be suspended at 12 p.m. People should be getting their plans together this morning for an evacuation."
Brown added, "With the uncertainties of this storm and its increasing strength, we need to take all necessary precautions to protect our residents. It's imperative that you make plans this morning to secure your homes and move you and your family to safety off-island."