Hurricane Laura is expected to "rapidly strengthen" into a Category 4 storm the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early Wednesday morning. It is currently a Category 3.
NHC said eastern Texas and Louisiana could see life-threatening storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding later in the day.
In a tweet, the agency, part of the National Weather Service, said "This storm surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline in SW Louisiana and far SE Texas." They also urged storm preparations to be rushed Wednesday as the waters will begin rising later in the day. Widespread flash flooding is expected.
A life-threatening storm surge is forecast to occur with #Laura. The water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas. This storm surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline in SW Louisiana and far SE Texas. pic.twitter.com/tZHOksgtrQ— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 26, 2020
Hurricane warnings remain in place across those areas. Heavy rain, storm surge, high winds and the potential for tornadoes will be possible as the storm moves in that direction.
This is the first major hurricane to make landfall this year in the U.S.
More than half a million people have been ordered to evacuate the Texas and Louisiana coasts ahead of Hurricane Laura.
The National Hurricane Center warns of potentially devastating damage. Scientists predict up to 13 feet of storm surge, which could inundate the coastline. Laura already killed two dozen people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.