Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, early Thursday with winds of 150 mph.
Wind gusts of 100 to 135 mph have been recorded in southwestern Louisiana.
Laura is now tracking inland across western Louisiana with damaging winds.
Laura is also an inland flood risk as far north and east as Arkansas and the Ohio and Tennessee valleys.
Isolated tornadoes are also expected from Laura.
High water levels from storm surge will continue in coastal areas.
Hurricane Laura made landfall early Thursday morning and is now tracking northward across western Louisiana with threats of destructive winds, flooding rainfall, storm surge and tornadoes.
Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, at 1 a.m. CDT as a strong Category 4 with 150 mph winds, southwest Louisiana’s first Category 4 landfalling hurricane on record, according to NOAA’s historical database.
Laura is now tracking through western Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane this morning. The hurricane’s winds will slowly weaken as it moves farther inland toward Arkansas today.
Track and Intensity
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast shows Laura will track generally north on Thursday and then turn more to the east by Friday.
Laura should weaken to a tropical storm later Thursday as it moves into Arkansas. It’s predicted to weaken to a tropical depression as it tracks toward Kentucky and Tennessee on Friday.
The core of Laura’s strongest winds are now in central and western Louisiana. Wind gusts over 80 mph are possible near where the center of Laura tracks through western Louisiana this morning.
The winds will contribute to widespread power outages possibly lasting for days, if not over a week, downed trees and structural damage.
The potential for tree damage and power outages will affect areas farther inland along the path of Laura across eastern Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and western Tennessee.
Heavy Rain Threat
Laura will also spread heavy rain far inland through parts of the lower and middle Mississippi valleys, Ohio Valley, Tennessee Valley and the mid-Atlantic into Saturday.
Flash flood watches have been issued by the National Weather Service from Louisiana and eastern Texas to as far north and east as Arkansas, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, far northern Mississippi and extreme southern Illinois.
Landfalling hurricanes sometimes produce tornadoes to the east of where the storm’s center tracks.
The area with the greatest chance of seeing a few tornadoes from Laura on Thursday is from much of Louisiana into western Mississippi and Arkansas.
Storm Surge Threat
The highest storm surge is expected along and to the immediate east of the center of Laura as it moves ashore Wednesday night into early Thursday. Areas from the far upper Texas coast into southwest Louisiana will have an “unsurvivable storm surge,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The NHC predicts an inundation of 15 to 20 feet above ground level from Johnson Bayou, Louisiana, to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana, including Calcasieu Lake, if it occurs at high tide. A storm surge of 10 to 15 feet above ground level is also possible from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana.
The National Hurricane Center said storm surge could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the coast in southwest Louisiana and far southeast Texas.
See the map below for other storm surge peak inundation forecasts from the NHC.
Follow the advice of local and state officials if you are ordered to evacuate an area prone to storm surge flooding.
Tropical Depression Thirteen formed in the Atlantic last Wednesday night (Aug. 19) and strengthened into Tropical Storm Laura on Friday morning (Aug. 20.)
Laura is the earliest Atlantic ‘L’ named storm on record. The previous record was Luis on Aug. 29, 1995, according to Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University.