The National Hurricane Center has issued a new update regarding Hurricane Laura, warning residents of the Texas and Louisiana coast that there will be an "unsurvivable storm surge" caused by the major weather event. According to the NHC, the areas that will most be impacted by the storm surge range from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, all the way to Freeport, Texas. This will also impact bodies of water connected to the Gulf, such as Lake Pontchartrain and Galveston Bay.
Hurricane Laura was initially forecast to be Category 3 storm, was upgraded to a Category 4 on Wednesday. "Laura is now an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane with maximum winds of 140 MPH," the NHC explained. "Little time remains to protect life and property before water levels begin to rise and winds increase in the warning area." The NHC has been using Twitter to issue updates on the conditions of the storm, saying recently that water levels are "beginning to rise along the coast of Louisiana. Aircraft reports pressure has fallen to 948 mb." It later added that water levels have begun rising along the coast of southeast Texas, as well.
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. This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline. #Laura pic.twitter.com/bV4jzT3Chd— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 26, 2020
The NHC also stated that "hurricane-force winds are expected [Wednesday night] in portions of the hurricane warning area from San Luis Pass, Texas, to the west of Morgan City, Louisiana, with catastrophic wind damage expected where Laura's eyewall makes landfall." Additionally, the NHC warned that Laura may cause waterways to rise significantly. "Widespread flash flooding along small streams, urban areas, and roadways is expected to begin this afternoon into Thursday from far eastern Texas, across Louisiana and Arkansas. This will also lead to minor to isolated moderate freshwater river flooding."
In preparation for the major storm, the city of Galveston issued an evacuation order on Tuesday. 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."