Storm Laura now a hurricane, experts predict it may cause widespread flash flooding in Texas and Louisiana
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicts life-threatening flooding during the next 36 hours
Laura, a tropical storm, has now strengthened to become a hurricane. It is heading towards Louisiana and Texas after hitting Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico. Expecting massive destruction, the US has asked thousands of people to evacuate.
“This is a major hurricane,” Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said during a briefing on Tuesday, August 25. “It’s going to be a large, powerful storm," he added, comparing Laura to the 2005 Hurricane Rita, which cost the two states $25.2 billion in damage. According to him, Rita's intensity and expected path bear a resemblance to Laura. “That point of reference sometimes helps people understand the seriousness of the situation,” Edwards said.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicts life-threatening flooding during the next 36 hours, from San Luis Pass in Texas to the Mouth of the Mississippi River. "Widespread flash flooding along small streams, urban areas, and roadways is expected to begin Wednesday night [26 August] into Thursday across far eastern Texas, Lousiana, and Arkansas," the NHC said.
Laura is moving with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph with higher gusts, the NHC announced. Texas governor Gov Greg Abbott warned that Laura would cause major devastation. Agreeing, Eric Blake, a senior hurricane scientist, tweeted urging people to stay prepared.
Now that #Laura’s eye is forming, there’s just not a lot of doubt that this will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane for eastern Texas and Louisiana. It is sobering to watch... please be smart if you are in the path. pic.twitter.com/97EccI3SXZ— Eric Blake 🌀 (@EricBlake12) August 25, 2020
Laura is predicted to become a category 3 "major" storm before making landfall in the US. According to the NHC, storms placed in category 3 are capable of damaging well-built framed homes. It can uproot trees and block roads. Its effects will linger for after the storm has passed as it could affect electricity and water supply.
The NHC has predicted 5 to 10 inches of rainfall from Wednesday afternoon through Friday across parts of the northwestern Gulf Coast, from western Louisiana to far eastern Texas, and northward into much of Arkansas. And parts of Tennessee and Ohio Valley could see 2 to 4 inches by late Friday into Saturday. As for tornadoes, they expect to see a few in Louisiana, far southeast Texas, and southwestern Mississippi on Wednesday evening into Wednesday night. The risk will continue until Thursday, they added.
Images from the International Space Station (ISS) captured Laura after it made landfall in Cuba on August 23. The ISS also tweeted a video recently. "Tropical Storm Laura was viewed from external station cameras prior to making landfall on Cuba on Sunday, Aug. 23," they tweeted.
According to reports, officials have ordered hundreds of thousands of people, especially those residing in low lying areas in Lousiana and Texas, to evacuate. In Texas, parts of Orange, Jefferson and Chambers Counties, as well as Galveston, Texas, and the Texas A&M University campus. Some of them have voluntary orders. Portions of Jefferson, Lafourche and Plaquemines Parishes in Louisiana have also told residents to evacuate.
Texas has deployed more than 70 members of the Army and Air National Guards and the Texas State Guard to help with the response. "The uncertainties of this storm and its increasing strength have prompted mandatory evacuations for more than 300,000 residents in East Texas and along the Gulf Coast," Merribeth Kahlich, a public information officer with one of the search teams, told CNN.